Homeowner News

Readying Your Fireplace For Winter

Wallingord PA Real Estate - Wallingford PA - Fireplace Maintanance

Is Your Fireplace Ready For Winter?

As cold weather descends, thoughts of cozy evenings in front of a fire fill people’s heads. While a fire provides warmth and comfort, before using your wood-burning or gas fireplace for the first time this season, it’s important to make sure that it is clean and working properly.

The steps below can be done by a homeowner or by a local fireplace installer or chimney sweep. The important thing is to make sure you are safe and your home protected:


It is essential to make sure the chimney is clean before starting your wood-burning fireplace, stove or insert. Creosote, or unburned fuel, can accumulate in the chimney and cause a fire.

Inspect your chimney from the outside to make sure a chimney cap is present and in good repair and that there’s no bird’s nest or buildup of debris on the cap. You should also look for tree limbs above or near the chimney, and crumbling or missing mortar and bricks.

Inside your home, use a flashlight to inspect the flue damper to make sure it opens, closes and seals properly. You should also look for cracked bricks or missing mortar on the fireplace’s surround, hearth and firebox, as well as signs of moisture inside the firebox, which could indicate a faulty cap.

While gas fireplaces are low-maintenance, you should still take time to inspect the glass doors for cracks or latch issues, check that gas logs are in the proper position, test the igniter and look for clogged burner holes.


Wallingford Real Estate – Wallingford, PA 19086

2013 Delaware County Budget Calls For 2.8 Percent Tax Hike

The preliminary draft of the 2013 Delaware County budget includes a tax hike of 2.8 percent. The budget would rise to $329 million dollars, representing a $5 million dollar increase over the final 2012 numbers.

The average Delaware County taxpayer with a home assessed at $130,000 would incur a county property tax of $708.75 – an increase of $19.75 over last year.

The millage rate for 2013 would be set at 5.452 mills. A mill represents 1 dollar for every 1,000 dollars in assessed value.

Continued increases in Medicade reimbursements for the County owned nursing care facility at Fair Acres, which  is expected to cost the County 6.8 million dollars in 2013, was cited as a factor in the proposed increase, as well as rising pension and health care expenses.

Last year’s tax hike in County taxes amounted to 2.3%.

The proposed hearing date for the budget is December 6, with December 12 set as the tentative budget adoption date.

Wallingford Real Estate – Wallingford, PA 19086

A Taxing Situation – Comparing Local Delaware County Communities

In what may be a surprise to many people, we residents in the Wallingford Swarthmore School District no longer have the distinction of paying the highest tax bills in the area. That priviledge now belongs to the residents of the Ridley School District, specifically Ridley Township which breaks the 51 mill mark, topping out at 51.567 mills.


Delaware County 2012 Total Tax Millage Rates - Wallingford Real Estate


The millage rate refers to the amount of tax that is paid per thousand dollars of the assessed value of a home. For example a home with an assessment of $100,000 would pay a total tax bill of $5,156.70 in Ridley Township on the high end of the scale of the communities shown, and a home in Marple Township would assessed at the same value would pay a total tax bill of $2,670.39 on the opposite end of the spectrum. A Nether Providence Township home would have a tax obligation of $4,858.50.

For some real shocking news, residents of Colwyn in eastern Delaware County have a total millage rate of 72.560. So a home with the same $100,000 assessment cited above would have a whopping tax bill of $7,256.00!  We should not complain.

If you are interested in the lowest tax base in Delaware County, take a look at Thornbury Township. Their total millage amounts to 19.080.


The total tax obligation is composed of three components:

- Delaware County Taxes – all Delaware County communites pay the same 5.30 mills

- School Taxes – the largest component of the tax structure

- Municipal Taxes – each community levies a local municipal tax


Wallingford Swarthmore School District does hold the distinction among local communities with the highest school taxes in the area. WSSD tax millage is 225% higher than the Marple Newtown School District.

Nether Providence and Rose Valleyresidents have a slighty lower millage for school taxes than Swarthmore. Swarthmore and Rutledge residents pay an additional amount for support of Delaware County Community College, bringing their millage up to 39.334.

At the high end, residents of the William Penn School District – the Boroughs of Colwyn, Aldan, Lansdowne, and Yeadon, shoulder a school tax millage rate of 40.060.

Thornbury Township residents, where students attend the West Chester schools, have the lowest school in Delaware County at 19.080 mills.



 Delaware County 2012 School Tax Millage Rates - Wallingford Real Estate


Ridley Township again takes the local top spot in the municipal tax category at 8.0170 mills. Middletown Township has a very low muncipal millage of 1.6 due to the fact that they have no local police force to support.

Again Thornbury Township is at the low end of the municipal tax spectrum  – they pay no municipal taxes. Colwyn residents take the top spot for municipal taxes at 27.200 mills.



 Delaware County 2012 Municipal Tax Millage Rates - Wallingford Real Estate

Complete Delaware County Tax Rate data is available at:



Wallingford Real Estate – Wallingford, PA 19086

Is Your Air Conditioning Working At It’s Peak?

There will be plenty more hot summer days coming this month, so an efficiently running air conditioner is a necessity when it comes to keeping you and your family comfortable. Air conditioning units do not last forever, and the middle of summer would be the worst possible time for your system to break down. Luckily, there are usually warning signs that let you know your system may be malfunctioning, and many of these problems are easy to fix.

Pay attention to the following warning signs and help ensure your air conditioning system makes it through the summer:

- If you are not as comfortable as you were last year, it could be due to restricted airflow. Filters should be changed every 30 to 90 days, so if you have not done so recently, the first step to take is to change the filter. You should also make sure nothing is blocking your cold air returns and registers.

- Your comfort level depends greatly upon where your thermostat is located. If it is in direct sun or near a hot oven, your system will keep running long after you’ve cooled off. Alternately, if it is located near a register, your thermostat will detect a cooler temperature and leave you too warm in another part of the house. Check the location of your thermostat, and relocate it if necessary.

- If it seems like the air coming out of the registers isn’t as cold as it used to be, the first thing to check is the refrigerant lines that connect the outdoor unit to the indoor system. These two copper lines should be covered with an insulating sleeve. If they are not, sleeves are easy and inexpensive to purchase. If the wires are covered, your system may need its refrigerant re-charged, a repair that typically costs around $150.


Wallingford Real Estate – Wallingford, PA 19086

PECO’s Tree Man Comes To Wallingford PA

Wallingford Real Estate - Asplundh Trucks - Cameron Drive - Wallingford, PA - PECO Tree Cutting

Asplundh Tree Trucks On Cameron Drive In Wallingford Last Week

The letter from PECO came several weeks ago informing me that Asplundh tree crews would be visiting Sproul Estates in the next several to perform preventative tree trimming maintenance. I read this notice with trepidation, remembering the last time PECO’s tree man came to the neighborhood, and the loss of about 8 feet of tree top from the Holly and Norway Spruce trees that form the border of my property underneath the power lines.

I realize the need to trim trees and vegetation that can pose possible threats to overhead power lines during storms, but it is very disconcerting to have these trees clipped like they went to noivce barber. A bad haircut from only lasts a few weeks, the effects of “vegetation management” remains for years.

The tree man was last in the neighborhood about 4 years ago, and the trees had regained a decent shape, and then they are decimated again. The crew chief told me they would remove up to 8 feet of the trees, and would try to preserve as much as possible. I would hate to see what the result would look like if I had not spoken with him.

Wallingford Real Estate - Wallingford, PA - PECO Tree Trimming - Asplundh

The View Before


Wallingford Real Estate - Wallingford, PA - 19086 - Asplundh Tree Trimming - PECO

The View After

I hope there is some new growth in the next 4 years until the tree man’s next visit.


Wallingford Real Estate – Wallingford, PA 19086

Don’t Let Hardware Date Your Home

New Hardware Can Make  A Diffference

Nothing makes a home look older than loose, broken,

outdated or dirty hardware. This is especially true in

kitchens and bathrooms that tend to attract a

homebuyer’s attention more than any other rooms in a



The good thing is that it is easy and

inexpensive to fix these problems. You will be amazed

at what a difference a few simple changes can make!


Consider the following updates to brighten your home and give it a new,

fresh and updated look:


-  Cabinet Hardware: Repair loose knobs and pulls by tightening screws,

replacing stripped screws, and plugging gaps with wood filler. Alternately,

you may decide to replace knobs and pulls entirely. There is a wide variety

of options to choose from in every price range, and from simple to ornate.


- Door Hinges: It’s common to find paint on door hinges, yet it’s an easy

mistake to correct. Paint can be removed by washing it with hot, soapy

water and scrubbing with a toothbrush. Afterward, use a paint stripper that

is safe for all surfaces and then shine things up with brass polish.


-  Door Knobs: Door knobs are everywhere in your home! Be sure that they

are all tightly attached and sparkly clean to make a great impression. Use

polish for brass knobs and warm water and dish soap for stainless steel.


Wallingford Real Estate – Wallingford, PA 19086

Not All Home Remodeling Projects Are Created Equal

Wallingford Real Estate - Wallingford, PA - Home Improvement Cost ValueRemodeling Magazine has released it’s 2010 vs 2011 Cost vs Value index that evaluates the cost of 35 popular home remodeling projects against the projected value at resale. To no surprise not all home remodeling projects are created equal, and not all home remodeling projects return is the same at resale.

An oft hear comment by sellers could not be further from the truth:

I put in over $50,000 in improvements, I want to get it all back


The four highest value add improvements cited are:

- Steel Exterior Door Replacement – 102.1%

- Garage Door Replacement – 83.9%

- Minor Kitchen Remodel – 72.8%

- Wood Deck Addition – 72.8%


The four projects that yielded the lowest return:

- Home Office Remodel – 45.8%

- Backup Power Generator - 48.5%

- Sunroom Addition – 48.6%

- Bathroom Addition – 53.3%


Check out the return for the 35 projects in the Middle Atlantic region.


When choosing a remodeling project for your home there are two important things to remember. Keep the project in line with other homes in your neighborhood. If you want to recoup the highest amount of your project investment do not over improve for your area. Secondly, regardless of the home improvements you make, do not expect to get your investment back dollar for dollar at resale.


Wallingford Real Estate – Wallingford, PA 19086

Nether Providence Township Changes Use And Occupancy Requirements

Wallingford Real Estate - Wallingford, PA - Use And Occupancy

GFCI Outlets Now Required For Township U&O

GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) outlets are now a requirement of  the Nether Providence Township Use & Occupancy Certificate.

The Township has a set of U&O requirements that applies to homes sold in the Township. A U&O application and inspection in the township costs $70.00, and must be satisfactorily completed prior to the settlement date of a property.

The specific requirement for a GFCI is stated in the the U&O as:


Ground Fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) receptacles are required for receptacles located in bathrooms, powder rooms, laundry room, garages, outside receptacles, vicinity of pools, saunas etc. and in kitchen countertops. A receptacle with a single yolk that is dedicated for an appliance need not have a GFCI installed.


GFCI’s are designed to prevent electrical shock by breaking the circuit when there is an imbalance in current flowing between the hot – the right slot, and the neutral slot located on the left of the outlet. It can detect small amounts of electricity that standard outlets and circuit breakers can not sense, and turn off the current in as little as 1/30 of a second, preventing a potential lethal shock.


Wallingford Real Estate – Wallingford, PA 19086

Superior Court Rules On Disclosure Of Murder/Suicide

An upcoming court case in Delaware County will decide whether a murder/suicide, where a husband killed his wife and then committed suicide, constitutes a  “material defect”,and should have been disclosed via the Seller’s Property Disclosure.

 While Pennsylvania Seller Disclosure Law does not require the disclosure of a stigmatizing event that occurs on the property, the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that the sellers should have included notification of the murder/suicide in the section of the disclosure form that asks sellers to disclose any material defects “not disclosed elsewhere on this form.”

The definition of a material defect in regards to the Sellers Disclosure is:

a problem with a residential real property or any portion of it that would have a significant, adverse impact on the value of the property or that involves an unreasonable risk to people on the property

In November 2011, a  Pennsylvania Superior Court reversed a lower court decision that a murder/suicide which occurred in the home did not in fact constitute a “material defect”, and consequently the sellers of the home were not required to disclose the event.

The property at the center of the case was obtained by a buyer who was aware of the murder/suicide at the time of purchase, and who subsequently sold the property nine months later. The second buyer, who was unaware of  the past notorious events, is seeking legal remedy claiming the seller violated the disclosure law.

The plantiff in the case hired two appraisers, who held the opinion that the property was diminished by as much as 10 percent to 15 percent as a result of the murder/suicide. The Superior Court felt that this constituted a “material defect”, which consequently devalued the property, and should have been disclosed. 

Four years ago a ruling in Beaver County which involved a suicide, stated that the suicide did not interfere with the “use and enjoyment of the property”, and therefore disclosure was not necessary. This has been the only other Pennsylvania case involving a stigmatizing event that has been decided in the state. 

The precedent, based upon the outcome of this upcoming Delaware County case, may be building that disclosure of a stigmatizing event such as a murder or suicide will be required in the future.

I certainly know of many buyers who would consider the non-disclosure of such an tragic event constituting a material defect that devalues the property. As in all questions of disclosure by a seller – take the safe route and disclose it. Remember what you do not disclosure, your neighbors will, once the new owners move in.


Wallingford Real Estate – Wallingford, PA 19086

Replacement Projects Can Pay Off For Homeowners

Wallingford Real Estate - Home Improvements

According to Remodeling magazine’s 2011-2012 “Cost vs. Value Report,” replacement projects perform better in resale value than other types of remodeling projects. In fact, seven out of the top 10 projects were siding, window and door replacement projects.

The good news for cost-conscious homeowners is that investing in your home in a way that pays off at resale does not have to cost a lot. The high value of most replacements can be contributed to the relatively low cost of these projects. What’s more, the majority of replacement projects immediately improve curb appeal, making the home more attractive to buyers.

Based on interviews with real estate professionals throughout the country, the Remodeling report found that the top project is fiber-cement siding, which typically recoups 78 percent of costs. Fiber-cement siding has been in the No.1 spot for six of the seven years since it was added to the report.

Moving up two spots in the rankings is the minor kitchen remodel, now coming in at fourth place at 72 percent. Considered an “interior replacement” project, this is the least expensive way to give an existing kitchen a complete face lift. It is typically done by adding new cabinet door and drawer fronts and hardware, new counter tops and new appliances.

The right remodeling project, when done well, also has the potential to make for a quicker sale and reduce negotiations with buyers over perceived shortcomings. Review the Cost vs. Value data, which has information for all regions of the country.


Wallingford Real Estate – Wallingford, PA 19086