Check out the press release from the Department of Banking I posted below.  Great changes, putting things into law that should always have been there, hopefully this puts an end to the predatory lending practices that the recent licensing law changes may have missed.

If you’d like to read the complete Code Changes, check out this PDF

PA Bulletin Rules & Regulations

If you’d like to read the correspondence from the Secretary of Banking to the Mortgage Lenders explaining these changes, check out this PDF

Letter to Lenders

As I have said before, there is no substitute for an educated second opinion, so before you get a mortgage or refinance, call me at 717-371-0557, I’ll be happy to review your mortgage terms with you to make sure you are protected!

Dec. 22, 2008
Department of Banking
Commonwealth News Bureau
Room 308, Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120

Defines Proper Conduct for Mortgage Lenders, Brokers

HARRISBURG – Secretary of Banking Steve Kaplan today announced that new rules for the mortgage industry will help to ensure that Pennsylvania borrowers receive affordable loans with clear, up-front terms. The regulation was published in the Pennsylvania Bulletinon Dec. 20. “The major thrust of the regulation is two-fold: to restore sound underwriting practices to the licensed mortgage industry and improve disclosures,” said Kaplan. “The lax lending standards and increasingly complex loans that were commonplace during the housing boom helped to create the wave of foreclosures we are facing today.”

Under the new regulation, mortgage lenders and brokers must document and verify a borrower’s income, fixed expenses and other relevant factors in order to reasonably determine whether the borrower will be able to pay back an offered loan. This requirement will restrict low- and no-documentation mortgages in which applicants do not have to provide proof of income, employment and other information.

The regulation also requires mortgage companies to clearly disclose in a one-page summary whether a loan has any of the following features:

Variable interest rate,

Prepayment penalty or balloon payment,

Property taxes and hazard insurance included in the monthly payment, or

Negative amortization feature in which the payments are set so low they do not cover the interest, let alone principal, of the loan.

The new disclosure form will also note whether the lender has the ability to directly lock-in an interest rate. The form will be available to mortgage companies early next year.

The ability to repay and disclosure requirements will go into effect March 20. The regulation also contains new rules regarding loan funding, payoff statements, advertising and advice to borrowers, all of which take effect immediately.

“There is ample evidence that many borrowers do not understand the disclosures currently provided to them under federal law and that these disclosures have failed to keep up with product innovation in the marketplace,” said Kaplan. “The form developed by the department for use in Pennsylvania will go a long way towards bridging these gaps.”

The regulation is based on recommendations from the Department of Banking’s 2005 study, “Losing the American Dream: A Report on Residential Mortgage Foreclosures and Abusive Lending Practices,” which documented foreclosure trends and lending practices that are abusive to consumers.

The study also provided the blueprint for the five-bill mortgage reform package Governor Edward G. Rendell signed into law in July. The new laws require loan salespeople working for mortgage companies to be licensed by the Department of Banking and allow the department to share information on enforcement actions against licensees with the public sooner. The laws also prohibit prepayment penalties on loans of $217,823 or less, require lenders to notify the state when they intend to foreclose on homeowners, and increase penalties for misconduct by real estate appraisers.


As always, you can call me Direct at 717-371-0557 or at the Office 717-490-8999, email me at or send me a text message using the tool to the right of this post!

Your Friend in Real Estate,

Search for Lancaster County Homes for sale by clicking here!


I came across some interesting info the other day on  They republished some info from Zillow that showed the Top Ten Areas where home prices have either Decreased or Increased.  Here is the break down:

Top 10 Increases

Ithaca, NY                     +5.6%
State College, PA          +4%
Jacksonville, NC            +3.9%
Winston-Salem, NC       +3.4%
Bay City, MI                   +3.2%
Rochester, NY                +3.1%
Greenville, SC                +2.8%
Anderson, SC                +2.7%
Burlington, NC               +2.6%
Spartanburg, SC            +2.0%

So, overall our top ten areas of growth are posting small single digit appreciation rates.  Pretty typical stuff.  Interesting that 9 of them are in or pretty close to the Mid Atlantic region.

But even more interesting is where the values have gone down:

Las-Vegas-Paradise, NV                -24.6%
Bakersfield, CA                               -24.9%
Madera, CA                                   -26.2%
Gainesville, GA                                 -26.4%
Riverside/San Benardino, CA         -30.4%
Modesto, CA                                  -31.0%
Salinas, CA                                    -32.4%
Merced, CA                                    -32.5%
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA                       -33.2%
Stockton, CA                                  -35.5%

8 out of 10 of the biggest decreases in the country are in California, which coincidentally had the most over-inflated markets.   I have a message for the great State of California.  Stop screwing it up for the rest of us!  It is no wonder people are confused about the real estate market when California, the state where many people live in a constant state of excess, isn’t just keeping the roller coaster going but I are extending the track to make new highs and lows every day.  Most of the negative media coverage of the real estate market is negative because in places like California it really is bad.  Who can argue with declines of 25% to 35%?

But that isn’t Lancaster County.  In Lancaster, our average sales price as of the end of October is down about 3.5%, not bad considering that for the most part we were holding steady this year.  We never had an over-inflated market though like California did.   Much of our recent decrease is attributable more to the economic uncertainty than market conditions.  Our prices are declining slightly because the activity is down 9units closed is down in the neighborhood of 25% to 29% depending on how you look at the data), many buyers are sitting on the sidelines waiting to buy because they aren’t sure if their jobs will be there next year.  That has nothing to do with home prices and I can’t fix it here.

All I can do is spread the word.  Here in Lancaster, activity levels are pretty normal (historically), rates are low and there are deals to be had.  If you are waiting on the side of the pool trying to decide whether to jump in, all I can say is come on in, the water’s fine!

As always, you can call me Direct at 717-371-0557 or at the Office 717-490-8999, email me at or send me a text message using the tool to the right of this post!

Your Friend in Real Estate,

Search for Lancaster County Homes for sale by clicking here!


We are also the 21st Most SecureMetro area of any size in the US!

According to “Health, prosperity, safety and security are all desirable aspects when it comes to seeking a place to live, work or raise a family…..The rankings took into consideration crime statistics, extreme weather, risk of natural disasters, environmental hazards, terrorism threats, air quality, life expectancy and job loss numbers in 379 U.S. municipalities. The study divided the communities into three groups: large metropolitan areas, mid-size cities and small towns.

Here is the breakdown for Mid Sized Cities:

Mid-Size Cities (150,000 – 500,000 residents)

  1. Olympia, Wash.
  2. Rockingham County-Strafford County, N.H.
  3. San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, Calif.
  4. Sioux Falls, S.D.
  5. Bellingham, Wash.
  6. Fargo, N.D.
  7. Naples-Marco Island, Fla.
  8. Las Cruces, N.M.
  9. Lancaster, Pa.
  10. Bremerton-Silverdale, Wash.
  11. Binghamton, N.Y.
  12. Lynchburg, Va.
  13. Burlington-South Burlington, Vt.
  14. Rochester, Minn.
  15. Santa Barbara-Santa Maria, Calif.
  16. Charlottesville, Va.
  17. Santa Rosa-Petaluma, Calif.
  18. Salinas, Calif.
  19. St. Cloud, Minn.
  20. Medford, Ore.

For more infomation, visit www.bestplaces .net and search recent studies!

As always, you can call me Direct at 717-371-0557 or at the Office 717-490-8999, email me at or send me a text message using the tool to the right of this post!

Your Friend in Real Estate,

Search for Lancaster County Homes for sale by clicking here!


Every week a new report is released that talks about the national housing market.  It’s up, it’s down, predictions of doom and gloom.  These indexes measure housing statistics using a number of indicators and interestingly enough, sometimes the people publishing the reports have agendas of their own.  For example, the folks publishing the Case Shiller index are making a living ……. managing hedge funds!  That’s right, the same type people who pushed the sale of all those bad mortgages (the Subprime Crisis sound familiar) in the last few years also make money on the back end, by discouraging real estate investment in favor of investment in the stock market!  After all, investors have to put their money somewhere and if the hedge fund managers discourage investment in real estate then they end up putting their money into accounts managed by the hedge funds.  A weird, twisted loop to be sure.  So, who do you trust?

While you can see how well those stock market investments have done recently and can probably guess my opinion of the value of real estate advice from hedge fund managers, I guess it is all a matter of perspective.  You could say I am biased, because after all I do make a living selling real estate.  In the end, you the consumer are left making an individual decision, based on your individual needs.

The truth of the matter is, real estate trends only matter to the average homeowner on a local level.  That’s right, if you are buying or selling a home in Central Pennsylvania, all you should care about relating to home sale performance is the market here in Central Pennsylvania.  Major metro areas of other states do not impact you, nor do trends in those markets.

The National Association of Realtors recently released a study comparing the four major price indexes.  They are the National Association of REALTORS® Median Sales Price, the Case‐Shiller Index group, and two Conventional Mortgage Home Price Indices, one by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) and one by Freddie Mac.  You can view the complete study information here in the link below:

NAR Home Price Index Comparison

The study clearly illustrates just how subjective these number are.  So remember, local decisions don’t require the latest info from CNN, Fox, PBS or MSNBC.  They require knowledge of the LOCAL market, so you the consumer can make the right decision for YOU.

For information on the local market and how it may or may not apply to your specific needs, call me.  We’ll figure it out how it applies to you together.

As always, you can call me Direct at 717-371-0557 or at the Office 717-490-8999 or email me at!

Your Friend in Real Estate,

Search for Lancaster County Homes for sale by clicking here!