When the Team Does Well, We All Do Well – How Penn State Athletics Drives the Real Estate Market in Happy Valley

 

In the midst of flourishing farms, picturesque Mount Nittany and industrious Sheetz Gas Stations, (which seem to be on every corner), stands the economical behemoth of Central Pennsylvania.  “What brings you to the area?”  The overwhelming response to this question is the Pennsylvania State University –  “I was hired by the university”, “I went to school here and love the area”, “I married into this”.  It’s no secret that the university is the driving force of Happy Valley’s economy and the housing market is no exception.

The cash cow of Penn State lies with the athletic department — In 2017, athletics generated a net revenue of $144,017,055 and after expenses made a profit of $5.3 million*.  Among the other top employers in State College include, Mount Nittany Medical Center, State College Area School District and Glenn O. Hawbaker Inc., to name a few*.

Not all of the industry in Happy Valley inspire the masses as much as a win from the Penn State Football Team over Ohio State.  The palpable energy, excitement and anticipation from the approaching Ohio State game this weekend (plus the slew of inquiries from real estate investors traveling into town for the game) made me posit the question, is there a correlation between Penn State wins and real estate sales?

A perfect example was Penn State’s win over Ohio in 2016.  The enthusiasm of the icy, rain soaked Saturday night game win carried into Sunday morning to a packed open house I hosted.  All the potential buyers walking through the charming victorian home in Bellefonte were in the best spirits I’ve experienced at an open house and the home ended up selling at that open…you better believe I was blasting “Sweet Caroline” and “Zombie Nation” on repeat that day.

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Although it certainly inspires and lifts the spirits of a community that bleeds blue and white, I found that State College real estate sales are pretty evergreen, regardless of how well our athletic teams are performing.

In going back 10 years, I pulled closed real estate sales for single family homes in State College, PA* between 2007-2017.  There are two noticeable dips in real estate transactions, the first was the market crash of 2008, down in sales $48 million from the year prior, and during the time of the Sandusky scandal, down in sales $25 million from the year prior.  With only the two aforementioned decline in sales, every year stays relatively stable or the numbers continue to grow – with the past four years having the biggest jump in sales*.

We can all agree, Penn State is the largest and number one employer in the area and State College, as a town, is developing at a rapid pace.  Downtown high rises, more hotels and a casino are only the beginning of what is to come to the home of the Nittany Lions.

As long as the university is in business and the community continues to grow, the economy in State College (and the surrounding areas) will remain robust.  It certainly doesn’t hurt to have a W against the Buckeyes in the process.

 

Sources

*https://www.centredaily.com/sports/college/penn-state-university/article204119879.html
*Data of single family homes within State College Area School District closed within the years 2007-2017 from navicamls.net, Centre County Association of Realtors.
*https://www.centredaily.com/news/local/article199691864.html
*Photography by Steve Tressler, http://www.vistaprostudios.com

Notes

*The last four years of closed, single family homes within the State College Area School District,

2017 – $361,305,195.00
2016 – $370,466,440.00
2015 – $347,591,181.00
2014 – $302,445,387.00

 

Designer Homes Come to State College – High End House Flipping and Ultra Modern Spaces are the Next Big Thing in Happy Valley

6 210 Seneca
210 Seneca Circle, State College, PA 16801

Chic, waterfall edge, quartz countertop islands; lighting, curated and imported from Europe – the stuff of real estate commonplace in metropolitan New York, Los Angeles and Miami is starting to resonate with high end home buyers in Happy Valley.

Real estate investors and developers, Josh and Lizzie Parra of Parra Design Build, are spearheading the sleek design movement in Centre County.  Investing in projects to renovate and put their exclusive stamp – Josh and Lizzie employ the latest in innovative design concepts and luxury finishes for properties in need of an update within the area,.

With all cash offers, buyers from major cities and foreign investment becoming prevalent in State College, so to is the need for a more modern and sophisticated home inventory.  “We can bring the city design to State College…”, stated by Lizzie Parra in a recent interview*; exemplified in their most recent undertaking in the Dalevue/Centre Hills neighborhood of State College, 210 Seneca Circle,

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210 Seneca Circle – $599,000.00

210 Seneca Circle, State College, PA

Bigger builders are taking note as well – including one in the area that made custom requests and concessions for a metropolitan buyer’s newly constructed home within State College.  The finishes and fixtures chosen were a deviation from their traditional selections and more contemporary.

A newer neighborhood, Rockey Ridge, is devoted to the enterprise of modern architecture.  Contemporary style construction can be seen lined along Linden Hall Road in Boalsburg.  These homes are selling like hot cakes around the $600k price point – further emphasizing the demand for the current trend.

The State College buyer is becoming more discerning, catching on to the latest interior fashions, including opting for quartz countertops over the formerly popular choice of granite.  Traditional colonial and craftsman style homes remain the most popular in the area, however, the market dictates an undeniable need for properties with an edge.

Notable Links 

Parra Design Build

*Interview link

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FHelpMeBA%2Fvideos%2F1981827861868804%2F&show_text=1&width=560“>Interview with Parra Design Build

210 Seneca Circle Listing Information

Schedule a Private Tour – (814) 470-0060

Open House Schedule

Saturday – June 16th 12pm-2pm
Sunday – June 17th 2pm-4pm

 

The Five Most Expensive Addresses in State College

Lamborghinis parked on College Avenue, new high rise buildings erected on $7,000,000.00 quarter acre lots in Downtown State College and Penn State Football.  There’s no question that there’s money here in Happy Valley.  Foreign and local investors alike see the value in a town with an evergreen opportunity at Penn State, further pushing prices higher.  This has trickled down to the residential market in State College.

Here are the top five most expensive addresses in State College.*

5. Brandywine Drive

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Average Sale Price – $700k-$850k**

4. Greenbriar Drive

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Average Sale Price – $725k-$925k

3. Park Avenue West

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Average Sale Price – $800k-$1M

2. Holly Ridge Drive

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Average Sale Price – $800k-$950k

1. Scenery Drive

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Average Sale Price – $800k-$1.5M

*”…most expensive addresses in State College” is merely for entertainment purposes.
**Results were derived from closed properties listed on the Centre County Multiple Listing Service.

Medical Marijuana Dispensary Comes to State College

Cheech & Chong.  Funyuns.  A new Netflix series called, “Disjointed”.

Stigmas and prejudice cloud the medical marijuana industry with exaggerated, stoned caricatures, late night munchie runs for Spam and Cheese Ramen (it’s a real thing, https://munchies.vice.com/en_us/article/qkqjnw/the-ultimate-munchies-menu-of-stoner-snacks) and hip hop artists writing odes to “smoking broccoli”.

The reality is a 10 year old girl named Antania* suffering with debilitating grand mall seizures, diagnosed with a rare epileptic disorder – Dravet syndrome.  After trying 20 FDA approved medicines with no positive response, it came down to medical cannabis oil that would allow this little girl to live like a normal little girl.

There are thousands of heartbreaking yet hopeful stories similar to Antania’s.  The optimism lies in the medicinal qualities of cannabis.

Medical Marijuana in the Commonwealth…and State College

The Pennsylvania Department of Health signed the state’s Medical Marijuana Program into law on April 17, 2016.  According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s website, the implementation of this program is expected to be operational within 18 to 24 months of the program’s launch.

On June 29, 2017, 27 dispensary permits were awarded throughout the commonwealth.  One of  these aforementioned permits will take effect locally in State College, PA.

PA Health & Wellness, LLC, our local dispensary agglomerate, are a group seasoned in the medical marijuana industry.  Much like any medical or dental office, the dispensary will have the accouterments of a doctor’s facility, with the exception of added security measures.

Pennsylvania residents will be able to participate in the Medical Marijuana Program only by diagnosis of one of the following 17 “serious medical conditions”,

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
  • Autism
  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) / AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome)
  • Huntington’s Disease
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Intractable Seizures
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Neuropathies
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Severe chronic or intractable pain of neuropathic origin or severe chronic or intractable pain in which conventional therapeutic intervention and opiate therapy is contraindicated or ineffective
  • Sickle Cell Anemia

Once a physician has certified the diagnosis, the patient will apply for a medical marijuana ID card and obtain medical marijuana from an approved dispensary location.

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Details on How to Participate in the State’s Medical Marijuana Program are Outlined on their Website, health.pa.gov

Medical marijuana will be in the form of pill and oil to start in Pennsylvania and the availability to patients will be in 2018. 

Advocacy in Centre County

As PA Health & Wellness, LLC commence a remodel and noticeable repainting of their proposed joint on 2105 North Atherton Street, local “Cannavangelist” Sher Simcisko has been actively advocating for the medicinal use of marijuana in Pennsylvania.  I’ve been in favor of legalization for a long time, gone to rallies and such but started advocating intensively early in 2015”.  Sher is affiliated with PA Safe Access which Sher states, “…grew out of a need to fight for PA patients and to provide them with the information they will need to navigate the law and the process of becoming a PA medical marijuana patient”.

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PA Safe Access, “…grew out of a need to fight for PA patients and to provide them with the information they will need to navigate the law and the process of becoming a PA medical marijuana patient” shares Simcisko

Misconceptions about Medical Mary Jane

Misinterpretations come twofold with the medicinal use of marijuana.  “A big misconception is that it’s only helpful for a few specific problems”, says Simcisko, “One of the conditions we weren’t able to get included (in the serious medical condition list deemed by the PA Department of Health) was addiction and mental health issues…that could have helped so many people”.  Simcisko goes on to say that continued use of medical marijuana has been correlated to prevent certain diseases and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and cancers.

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Cannabis is Therapeutic to A Myriad of Conditions, “One of the conditions we weren’t able to get included was addiction and mental health issues…that could have helped so many people” Stated Simcisko

The other obvious debasement is the believe that marijuana is a “gateway” drug affiliated with lung cancer, DUI deaths and violent crime, to which Simcisko retorts, “In fact, DUI deaths and violent crimes have decreased, most likely due to the fact that the use of alcohol decreased”.

For Sher, it’s about keeping the community apprised of the miraculous stories and statistical connection of healing for multitudes of people, “The best thing people can do is be informed”.

Indeed, researching the curative characteristics of cannabis have been a challenge for the FDA with red tape and the legal restrictions of the drug.  The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine published a report considering current cases, weighing both the therapeutic effect and harmful reactions alike**.

Regardless of where you stand on the thought of curative cannabis, the drug will be regulated and dispensed in accordance with the Pennsylvania Department of Health in State College.  A plume of preconceptions, legalities and the definition of a pharmaceutical surround medical marijuana…however, the healing is evident.  State College is a place of innovation, research and new ideas – it would seem a perfect location for a holistic approach to medicine. 

**https://nccih.nih.gov/health/marijuana

Stories of Healing

*https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/jessica-hawkins-breaks-the-law-every-time-she-gives-her-child-her-medical-cannabis-in-pa-and-she-has-no-intention-of-stopping/Content?oid=1838438&storyPage=2

http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/trending/Local-veteran-Mike-Whiter-spotlights-overmedicated-soldiers-advocates-for-medical-marijuana-with-OperationOverMed.html

http://abc27.com/2016/02/16/update-cancer-patient-illegally-healing-with-medical-marijuana-identifies-himself/

PA Safe Access / Local Information and Advocacy

http://pasafeaccess.com/temp-time-enthusiasm-money-people/

Pennsylvania Department of Health Medical Marijuana Program

http://www.health.pa.gov/My%20Health/Diseases%20and%20Conditions/M-P/MedicalMarijuana/Pages/FAQ.aspx#general

Do you live in a state where medical marijuana isn’t legalized?  Do you suffer from one of the 17 serious conditions as specified by the PA Department of Health?  Please contact me about relocating to beautiful Centre County Pennsylvania, our wonderful hospital and medical facilities and advocacy programs.

Radon & Central Pennsylvania – What You Need to Know

“Home inspection; elected. Pest inspection; elected. Radon inspection…hey Sarah, should we elect or waive to complete a radon inspection?” My eyes grow quarter sized from across the Keller Williams conference room table of my eagerly excited clients, writing an offer on their first home. Before I answer, here are the facts that every home buyer in Central Pennsylvania should consider before purchasing a home in Happy Valley with regard to radon.

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What the Heck is Radon?

Radioactive, atomic number 86, radon is an odorless and tasteless noble gas.  According to the EPA, radon is attributed to the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, only second to smoking.

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Page 7, Section 12 Buyer’s Due Diligence/Inspections (9-16), Lines 337-347 regarding radon in the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors ASR form.  Standard Agreement of Sale of Real Estate used to negotiate the terms of a residential home purchase in the state of Pennsylvania.

Originating from a natural decomposition of uranium and radium in the ground, radon can penetrate a structure (your potential abode), through cracks and any apertures in the foundation.

Testing for Radon

4.0 picoCuries/liter constitutes an elevated level of radon exposure within a dwelling.  During your inspection contingency period, on the road from contract to closing day, a radon test will be set by a person certified by the Department of Environmental Protection (more than likely your selected home inspector or a company that specializes in mold and radon).

The test is typically appointed in the basement (if applicable) and collected within a minimum of 48 hours to ensure a proper reading.  During this 48 hours, all windows and doors remain closed.

Radon in Centre County

Centre County is located within EPA Radon Zone 1, a county “with predicted average indoor radon screening levels greater than 4 pCi/L”.  That being said, I’ve witnessed readings registering from 0.02 all the way to 150.00 pCi/L!  As my Penn State Psych 002 professor once said, “Correlation does not mean causation”…however, I see a strong correlation between Victorian homes in Bellefonte and higher registered radon readings.  Factually, radon can register above 4 pCi/L just about anywhere in Centre County, but it shouldn’t be cause for concern in moving forward in the acquisition of a home.  Radon can be remedied.

Radon Mitigation Systems and Cost in Central PA

So your home registered over 4 pCi/L; what happens now?  Your radon professional will make a determination on the most efficient system based on the layout of the home and the severity of the reading.  Homes registering just over 4-10 picoCuries will typically require a simple fan mitigation.   In my experience, homes logging in over 10 picoCuries may deem additional piping and fans to ward off elevated levels of the element.  The most extreme mitigation arrangement I’ve encountered was a two-story, Victorian with a 150 picoCurie radon reading.  This home required two industrial sized pipes, running the entirety of the basement with two fans to accomplish a score under 4.

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Radon Test provided by Enviro Management

Fans.  Piping.  Radioactive Gas.  Cancer.  “Sarah, you’re starting to scare me, how much is this going to cost?”.

Before you panic, radon is another element (pun intended), that you can negotiate in your offer for a home.  Most everything is negotiable in the state of Pennsylvania, however, it is customary (in my experience selling real estate within Centre County) to negotiate that the buyer and seller split the cost of the radon mitigation system, if necessary.

The average cost, dependent on the system your new domicile will call for, within Centre County Pennsylvania range from $400.00-$1450.00*.

Knowing the facts, it’s up to the consumer as to whether you should elect to have the radon levels tested or waive your opportunity.  Always consult with your realtor in making this decision, review the statistics and speak with a local professional.  A recommended, community resource pertaining to radon is Jim Stein at Enviro Management.

Additional Resources:

https://www.epa.gov/radon
https://www.enviromg.com/
EPA Radon Guide

*Based on current pricing from local radon professionals and the average pricing spectrum I’ve encountered in my professional experience.  Prices may vary contingent on your new home and radon reading.

 

 

“What’s the Code to the Wi-fi Again?” — Neighborhood Guide to High Speed Internet Service in State College

What’s more frustrating than trying to send that important email for work or, more likely, stream the latest Katy Perry video on YouTube…and the error, “Your message cannot be sent” or “Buffering” scrolls across your screen denying you of instant technological gratification.  No $1 million dollar deal closed in an email, no Katy Perry cooking herself in a giant cauldron of chicken soup.  Phooey…(or whatever Phhff expletive you’d like to insert into your wi-fi nightmare).

I met a gentlemen recently who had a bone to pick with realtors in Central Pennsylvania.  “I really wish one of you would incorporate wi-fi and high-speed internet access into your presentations”.

Being a ‘Type A’ neurotic that aims to please, I said, “On it!”.

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Top Three Best Neighborhoods for High-Speed Internet Access in State College 

State College Borough

Including Nittany, Fairmount, Prospect and Hamilton Avenues.  High speed internet access is very strong in the downtown core area.  Average approximate price point* – $250,000+

The Landings

An S&A neighborhood with bird streets, Falconpointe Drive, Hawknest, Raven Hollow and Quail Run Roads.  Two story and ranch style floor plans available.  Average approximate price point – $250,000 – $327,000

Hunters Chase & Foxpointe

Another two neighboring neighborhoods brought to you again by S&A Homes.  Note that signal strengths are highest along Autumnwood and Saratoga Drives.  Traditional two-story and ranch floor plans available.  Average approximate price point – $300,000+

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Some areas of State College are lacking for high-speed internet service.  If you’re a Netflix junkie or simply a workaholic, you may want to consider the aforementioned areas in your home search when moving to Happy Valley.

Information derived from client testimonials on internet speed and sensorly.com.

*Average price point based on homes that have closed in the past year, 5/18/16-5/18/17, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms.

Hottest Places to Invest at Penn State — Beyond State College

The average cap rate, if you’re lucky, in most of State College is between 5-7%. With shiny new student high rise buildings creating a competitive downtown market, some investors are getting savvy by investing in the surrounding area and yielding a more appealing return.

Here are the current, hottest areas to invest outside of State College. The following areas are also worth-while for flipping properties.

Bellefonte

With a charming historic district and plans for a microbrewery coming to the old Gamble Mill, Bellefonte has a lot to offer…including a short commute to State College.

Cap rate average: 10-13%

Philipsburg

Philipsburg is a diamond in the rough in the sense that you can buy real estate cheaply there (for now). There is also a committee dedicated to the revitalization of the town and industry in the future is promising to the area.

Cap Rate Average: 13-15%

Pleasant Gap

Another town with a fast commute to State College, Pleasant Gap offers low taxes and is a trendy choice for renters and first time home buyers.

Cap Rate Average: 9-12%

Reedsville

Rolling farmland, the Amish and Revival Kitchen farm to table restaurant, Reedsville has been a popular alternative to the Lewistown area for renters.

Cap Rate Average: 10%

A cap rate can be strategically achieved with a realtor who is a skilled negotiator, deciding what expenses you’ll delegate to a tenant and pinning down your NOI (a.k.a. Real Estate Investment 101). Currently a seller’s market in State College with residential property averaging a 97.5% list to purchase price and commercial property 95% list to purchase price, there is an opportunity to achieve a 10% cap or higher in Central Pennsylvania’s metropolis if you get creative in negotiating an offer. For example, I have a client who purchased a residential rental property for $156,000 IN STATE COLLEGE and they do very well with a steady 10% cap (…and they didn’t need to update or renovate the home!).

When it comes to a ‘Property Brothers’ style overhaul to flip your investment for a profit, you’ll be wise to buy up surrounding areas to dear old State. I’ve seen a trend among some first time home buyers who may not be able to afford the 16803 price tag and taxes — a lot of them are moving with 20-30 minute commutes, some selecting properties even further to get a little more for their hard earned money. My advice to flippers, walk through with a realtor, stager and home inspector prior to completing any work. A realtor will tell you where your money is best spent within your targeted budget to achieve the highest possible return (such as adding a half bathroom to a home that only has one main bathroom). A stager/interior designer will recommend the latest paint colors, fixtures and flooring. Lastly, completing a home inspection prior to any renovations will provide a checklist of repair items. Once corrected, showing a potential buyer that you’ve identified the problems with your rehab and fixed them can put a buyer of your project at ease. They’ll know that they’re purchasing a quality home by eliminating their objections from the get go (which means more money in your pocket just for completing a $280 home inspection).

Central Pennsylvania is rife with investment potential. It’s all about negotiating the right price, staying on budget and planning your expenses. With these basic principles in mind, you can create a profitable portfolio in Happy Valley.

“Dear Seller, I Want Your Home”: How to Write a Winning Letter With Your Offer

“Dear Seller,

We love your home. Please pick us. We will take great care of the home into the future. Please.

Sincerely,

Desperate Buyers”

Don’t write this letter!

I know who you are. You’ve looked at countless homes. Perhaps you’ve even submitted an offer, in your search, and lost to a more enticing bid.

Regardless, Desperately Weary Buyer, the perfect 3 bedroom HGTV worthy Cape Cod has just hit the market in Bellefonte in a ruthless, Centre County seller’s market.  Along with this hot new property that just came through on your Zillow email alerts are other buyers, who are just as avid on hanging a tire swing in the front yard of their new home as you are.

How will you stand out?

Elaborating on a blog I wrote for our group page, ‘How to be Competitive in a Multiple Offer Situation’ (http://www.annetteyorks.com/be-more-competitive-in-a-multiple-offer-situation), Here are a few guidelines for formulating a letter to the seller, that could be the determining factor in selecting a winning bid when an owner can’t decipher among a bevy of buyers for their home.

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Guidelines

Introduce Yourself – Get straight to the point, state your name(s) and tell the seller who you are. Remember, there may be other buyers or rumors of other offers coming in, so no time to waste.

“Dear Seller,
My name is Sarah Boha…”

Tell Your Story – The point is to ‘pull their heartstrings’ so tell them what you do for a living and perhaps give an anecdote that will make them remember you. Also, state if this is your first time buying a home, if you’re downsizing or are new to the area.

“…and I’m a first time home buyer. I’m a licensed Realtor with Keller Williams Realty in State College with a very erratic and busy schedule. Most days I work from 6am to 10pm, weekends and whenever it is most convenient for my clients. I’ve seen thousands of homes in my professional career and when it came to selecting a home for myself, it was no easy task…”

What Brought You to the Seller’s Home? – Tell the seller about your home search. Has it been tedious? Time for catharsis. Let them know how found yourself making an offer on their home and why the home is the perfect choice for you.

“…With access to so many homes, it’s been easy to become intrigued with a variety of properties, however, nothing truly resonated as ‘home’ for me. When touring your property on 59 Horatio Street, I knew, from the open concept to the smartly appointed interior design, I had to make an offer. I knew I had finally found home…”

Tie it All Together – Circle back to something personal that ties in with why you’re buying a home. This can be a lead-in if you’re asking for seller assist in your offer.

“…As a single professional and, perhaps, a workaholic; I’ve made a lot of personal sacrifice, in order to meet my career goals. I’ve helped hundreds of families achieve their dream of owning a home…it is time for me to achieve my dream as well…”

If You’re Asking for Seller Assist or Contingencies – Time to plead your case. Seller assist is a great opportunity for buyers, however, it can make you less competitive if there are other offers in play. This is your time to tell the seller why you need help.

“…In order to achieve my dream of home ownership and as a single professional with one income, I will need some assistance…”

Closing – Seal the deal, thank the seller for their time and consideration of your offer.

“…Thank you for taking the time to consider my offer. I hope to call 59 Horatio Street my new home address soon!”

Tips

Consider the Perspective of the Author – If a letter is written from the perspective of the realtor, the realtor can serve as an advocate for the buyer, painting a picture and telling a story of the customers they’ve been serving. A letter directly from your Realtor can also add another level of credibility — this is a third party vouching on your behalf.

For my clients, I try to get to know them in the time that I show them homes and write a letter about them (unless they write one themselves…and even then I check their grammar). If you aren’t lucky enough to have a realtor who earned their Bachelor of Arts in English and Psychology from a nationally accredited university (shameless plug), they can easily follow the aforementioned guidelines for writing a letter.

Here is an example of a letter I wrote for a couple on a home in Bellefonte. The letter inspired the seller to accept their offer and moved him to build custom cabinetry as a wedding gift to my buyers. (Names and address changed for the example)

“Claire Underwood and her fiancé Frank are first time home buyers.  Claire is a full time school teacher and she is beyond excited to purchase her first home with her soon to be husband.  I’ve toured many homes with the couple and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is by far the winner in their long search.  When they took their first step through the threshold, they knew this was the home they had been searching for; they knew they had to make an offer.  Claire and Frank can see the love and talent that the seller has contributed to the house and are blown away by his carpentry skills.  They would love to have the opportunity to cherish his work and raise their future family within the beautiful craftsmanship of this home.  
Being a full time school teacher, Claire and Frank are just starting out and they do need some assistance to make their dream of purchasing their first home come true.   Claire and Frank want to make this work and are looking forward to your response.”

Keep it Short and Concise – I’m a fan of not being weighed down in the minutia. Give the seller a clear snapshot of who you are with clear anecdotes. It will help them reference who you are easily. For example, in a recent multiple offer situation, the listing agent reached out to me and asked, “Your offer is the family with four children who’ve been looking for a year and desperately need a home, right?”. The family, in this example, is closing on their home next week.

Don’t Oversell – Especially if you’re asking for seller assist or a lower price. Perhaps you have a great job at Penn State University, try to offset that by making yourself more personal.

Be Personal and Include the Seller – When depicting a hardship, i.e. death of a loved one, winning a fight with cancer, etc. always circle it back and tie it into why you’re purchasing the home and how the seller is included in your journey. Here is a real example of a client who is now enjoying their home (Name changed for the example),

“…She overcame her cancer and, inspired by her courageous fight, decided to earn her degree to become a nurse.  After school, Anastasia moved to State College, PA and has achieved her dream of becoming a nurse.  
She now wants to achieve her dream of owning a home…”

When a Letter Doesn’t Work

A letter is no guarantee that you’ll win the sweet, little Cape Cod in Bellefonte…but it certainly ups your chances. Here are a few factors and situations that are out of your control.

1. Cash Offers
2. Bank Owned Properties (Banks don’t have heartstrings)
3. When the Seller Knows the Buyer Personally or is a Relative of the Seller
4. Personal Prejudices

There have been many instances in my career where a letter set my clients apart in the eyes of a seller. The guidelines and tips listed above have proven successful for almost all of my clients. Again, it’s not a guarantee that it will make or break the deal, but it doesn’t hurt to try tugging on the emotional side of the person that holds the key to your ideal home.

Downtown Renaissance – The Innovation District Movement Hits Penn State

Gleaming, glass edifice of student high-rise hubs reflect cranes and excavation these days along College Avenue. The ‘Innovation District’ trend is manifesting in revitalized areas of Downtown State College. These highly efficient districts are defined as consolidated cores, encompassing office, retail and residential spaces. Social networking and community collaboration drive business ideas and the economy forward in this new urban model. Penn State University, the perfect anchor for such real estate developments, is creating a buzz within the commercial real estate market in State College.

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The Metropolitan – On the corner of College and Atherton Streets

Calls to my office range from business owners seeking relocation within the shadows of the wrecking ball to retailers wanting a space within these industrious districts.

Among the renaissance of Downtown State College, The Metropolitan, managed by MSC Retail, will be the first of three (and possibly more) student high-rise projects to entertain this contemporary model for living, working and studying. Come August, The Met will open it’s doors with 501 “luxury student living beds”, fully furnished and 10,000 square feet in retail space (with current plans for burger and Japanese food concepts), a 9,000 sf clubhouse, resort style pool, extensive fitness facilities and more.

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Rise at State College, being constructed on the other side of College Ave. from The Metropolitan, will also encompass retail space and convenient urban amenities. It is rumored that a pub/eatery restaurant chain, serving a selection of craft style beers and Irish/American comfort cuisine may have an interest in such retail space.  Urban Market is a secured tenant in Rise marked down for 16,500 sf.  At 12 stories, 575 student and professional residences with a 24 hour fitness center, yoga room and more; Rise is hyped to live up to it’s name.

The Residences, proposed in the footprint of Zola’s, California Tortilla and West College Realty, has been proposed, but nothing more has been disclosed.  When I called CDG Propreties to inquire about retail space, a representative told me to follow up in a few months.

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Rise at State College on the corner of College Ave.

The juxtaposition of older buildings and the millennial’s need to feel interconnected in the new way of urban planning will create an interesting dynamic in Downtown State College and the Penn State student and young professional lifestyle.  If you’re among the mindset of maintaining a small town feel, you may not need to fret.  Zoning within the core of the State College Borough has implemented height restrictions and areas that do not qualify for future development (currently).  These zoning conditions are lauded by some, but it’s creating a challenge for investors and developers to get their foot in the door to cash in on the innovation trend.  Among an ever-changing skyline, certain constructs will forever hold true; Penn State pride…and a booming industry.