Tag Archive for: Maria Muchal Berta

Last year had its challenges, no doubt. The sales volume coming from all the companies associated with the Greater Scranton Board of REALTORS® was down about 11.7% year-over-year in relation to the previous one (2022). The number of transactions was down about 5.4% year-over-year and surprisingly, the average sales price also decreased from $202,511 in 2022 to $189,148 in 2023 (-6.6%). Yet, many still found success in a market that had begun to turn. Our region still favors sellers (no doubt), but those days appear to be coming to end for the immediate future. The months supply of homes is creeping in the direction of a three months supply. We’re still a reach from the lower side of average, around five months, but these trends can accelerate when the market is changing — it’s done it before.As challenges persist, there can be uncertainty about your situation as a homebuyer or seller when faced with the state of the local market. How is buying or selling different now than it was four years ago? One could argue, now is the time when (a) you don’t want to go at it alone, and (b) you should rely on those real estate professionals who deliver results and who have experience in various types of market conditions. We have many agents who have this pedigree! We have a wonderful “team” of professionals at Realty Network Group. Additionally, these are our top performers for 2023…

 

Top Producers
Ann E. Cappellini
$5,445,613

 

Top Producers
Halle Stevens
$5,029,288

 

Top Producers
Maria Muchal Berta
$4,503,750

 

Top Producers
Ann A. Sheroda
$4,084,800

 

Top Producers
Melissa C. LeStrange
$3,933,000

 

Top Producers
Scott J. Weiland
$2,433,260

 

Top Producers
Dana A. DeLeo
$2,228,960

 

Top Producers
Heather A. Luklanchuk
$1,960,350

 

Top Producers
Amy L. Kiesinger Bohenek
$1,492,400

 

Top Producers
Theresa DeMario Plisko
$1,475,800

 

If you are thinking about buying or selling a home, these agents are a great starting point. Get started today by reaching out to one of our top performers!

When The Home You Bought Does Not Appraise

As a homebuyer, the landscape can be downright intimidating these days. Yes, multiple offer situations exist now, but this is changing and by July they might all but cease. First-time buyers can especially have concerns in this market, which is still a seller’s market, even though the pendulum is shifting. Why the concern? Well, interest rates have climbed and aren’t going down anytime soon. Furthermore, there’s still competition from other buyers who are eager to purchase, have been looking for a while and haven’t been priced-out of the market yet. There are many forces to consider when given the opportunity to buy real estate. Buyers in our region (Northeastern Pennsylvania) are paying about $300 more per month for a home via lender financing than they would have only six months ago for the same house. This is because rates have crept up about 2.5% points since January.

Lately, the Pennsylvania Association of REALTORS® (PAR) made some clarifications to one of their standard forms, the Appraisal Contingency Addendum (ACA), in an effort to clear up a little of the confusion surrounding buyer and seller rights and obligations surrounding the purchase of a property, specifically if a home fails to appraise. These changes will take effect on July 1, 2022. There’s been a misunderstanding in recent years about what the appraisal contingency means exactly for both parties and why the buyer doesn’t have the right to terminate an agreement of sale, if the appraisal contingency falls away, but that’s another conversation altogether.

As we mentioned above, there are still homes selling for over list price and there will be pockets of this type of activity I’m sure during the next few weeks. The concern for many potential buyers today is where does it put me if the appraised value of the home I’m looking to purchase comes in lower than the actual purchase price? This is a legitimate consideration. Thankfully, in Pennsylvania, the purchaser, through guidance from their REALTOR®, can rely on what’s called the “minimum appraised value” to protect them in the transaction. This would be the lowest value an appraiser could produce that would require the buyer to continue with the purchase. The ACA is there to accompany the sales contract and help these parties make every effort to continue forward in good faith toward settlement.

Of course, it doesn’t always work out for one or both parties, but protections like the appraisal contingency can help buyers sleep at night. “Homes failing to appraise happens more than you might think, even now,” asserts Maria Muchal Berta, Associate Broker for Realty Network Group and Owner/Certified Residential Appraiser of Chiave Appraisal Group. “It really depends if the buyer has the money to close the gap between the purchase price and its appraised value. How badly do they want the home? In some cases where the appraised value falls short of the purchase price, where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Angelo Ambrosecchia, Loan Officer for Guild Mortgage breaks down many of the intricacies involved in the following scenarios where homebuyers are seeking to secure funding for a home purchase.

“Prior to us getting involved, many transactions are negotiated that up to a certain price point, the buyer will pay the difference out of pocket, if a home appraises low. For example, someone is buying a home for $290K. If it appraises for $280K, they agree to pay the difference out of pocket, again, up to a certain amount. With inventory levels so low, we’re seeing this more as buyers don’t want to lose out on a home, if they can avoid doing so. In this example, if they were putting 5% down and getting a conventional loan, they would now be putting 5% of $280K down, and on top of that, paying $10K to make up the difference for the low appraisal, in addition to closing costs.”

“If the borrower has enough money down and they’re agreeable, we can adjust the loan-to-value to keep their out of pocket money the same. Here’s what I mean by that. We have someone buying a home for $290K and putting 20% down. This would make the loan amount $232K and down payment $58K. Let’s assume the home appraises for $280K and they want to keep their total out of pocket money the same, but agree to pay a total of $290K. We can lower the down payment from $58K to $48K and they can use that $10K to make up the difference. This keeps their total out of pocket funds overall, the same. In this case, they would now be putting $48K down on $280K and the loan-to-value would go from 80% to 82.9%. This would add a small PMI payment, but help the borrower accomplish their overall goal when it comes to total money, out of pocket.”

“As lenders, we can only lend up to the lesser of the appraised value or the purchase price. Always the lesser of the two.”

“If this isn’t agreed upon upfront, we first go to each REALTOR® and ask for any additional comparable properties the appraiser may have missed. At the permission of the buyer, we’ll have the buyer’s agent review the appraisal with them to see if any material items were missed. Is the bedroom count correct? Bathroom count? Square footage? Etc.”

“If no mistakes were made and the value isn’t able to be met, the REALTORS® involved would need to see if any re-negotiation can take place. If all parties can work it out or compromise on it, we move forward. If not, unfortunately, it may be a dead deal.”

There’s no “one-size-fits-all” solution for when the home in a real estate transaction fails to appraise, but we’ve attempted to give structure to variables that might come into play. We hope homebuyers have gained some valuable insight and can proceed with more confidence toward settlement.

 

For a related topic, see Why would I need an appraiser?

Importance of a Residential Real Estate Appraiser

As a homeowner, why would I need the services of a real estate appraiser? And is one needed if I already have a business relationship with a REALTOR®? These are great questions, but before we dive in and answer them, let’s establish what we mean when we say “appraisal.”

For our purposes here, we’re not concerned with commercial real estate appraisals. These are a whole different animal and are sought after less than residential ones in our region. By appraisals, we’re referring to an accurate estimate of a home’s current/fair market value (emphasis added). We’ll break down the difference between this and how we understand a comparable market analysis, but it’s safe to say appraisals hold much more weight. Furthermore, an appraisal, which is required by a homebuyer’s lender, for instance, is completed by a licensed appraiser and not solely a real estate agent.

While some homeowners, who are looking to sell their home, might request from a REALTOR® what’s called a comparable market analysis (CMA), it’s critical to recognize the distinction between it and an appraisal. While agents might use methods of comparison similar to appraisers, they aren’t licensed appraisers with no motivation for the sale of the property. Generally speaking, CMAs are for agent purposes (listing a home for sale, data to support a buyer’s offer) and appraisals are for lending purposes. Read more about their differences here.

Regardless of the business relationship you have with a real estate professional, unless he/she has a license to appraise property in that state, his/her assessment on what a property is worth won’t hold water with the mortgage lender actually making the investment on the home on your behalf (whether you’re the homeowner or mortgagor). Not all appraisals involve banks though. “There are many reasons someone would hire an appraiser,” exclaims Maria Muchal Berta, Owner/Certified Real Estate Appraiser for Chiave Appraisal Group and Associate Broker with Realty Network Group. “One reason is if a buyer is using cash to purchase a property, meaning there are no banks involved in the transaction. It gives the buyer a piece of mind knowing they’re not overpaying for a property. Other common reasons for hiring an appraiser include divorces, settling estates, refinancing, applying for home equity loans, appealing tax assessments or they’re just curious about their home’s worth.”

We hope this elucidates why someone might need the services of a real estate appraiser. It’s a complicated market out there! Make sure you have the right people and tools at your fingertips. If you need further clarification regarding homebuying, look into this resource.

Recognizing Our Top Performers

Through the first half of 2021, housing demand has been high and now listings are bouncing back as well. Since the “start” of spring selling season and the loosening of COVID-19 restrictions in Pennsylvania, we’ve seen inventory increase by +233 properties, 1,582 new listings versus 1,349 pending sales.*  This trend is a welcome sign for homebuyers in our region, especially first-timers.

Realty Network Group recognizes these ten top performers, who have outperformed many in the Greater Scranton Board of REALTORS® thus far in 2021:

Ann Cappellini
Ann E. Cappellini | $4,646,615 (total sales volume**)

Lee Ann Julio-Mahalidge
Lee Ann Julio-Mahalidge | $3,720,542 (total sales volume**)

Ann Sheroda
Ann A. Sheroda | $2,720,900 (total sales volume**)

Christina Keller
Christina M. Keller | $2,398,695 (total sales volume**)

Scott Weiland
Scott J. Weiland | $931,901 (total sales volume**)

Melissa LeStrange
Melissa C. LeStrange | $911,640 (total sales volume**)

Maria Muchal Berta
Maria Muchal Berta | $836,825 (total sales volume**)

Amy Kiesinger Bohenek
Amy Kiesinger Bohenek | $730,900 (total sales volume**)

Dana DeLeo
Dana A. DeLeo | $717,100 (total sales volume**)

Dianne Montana
Dianne Montana | $717,000 (total sales volume**)

Our professionals are nothing short of that – professional and they continue to impress!

 

* Greater Scranton Board of REALTORS® statistics March 1, 2021 through July 16, 2021
** Greater Scranton Board of REALTORS® statistics January 1, 2021 through June 30, 2021