by Anisha Wilson* – GetToKnowMontco

Operating out of Pennsburg, Brode and Brooks, Inc. Realtors is a local real estate agency serving Montgomery, Bucks, Lehigh, Berks and Chester counties in Pennsylvania. Brode and Brooks realtors assist with the purchase or lease of commercial & industrial, land or residential real estate, helping clients navigate every step of the property marketing and transaction details.

Brode and Brooks, Inc. Realtors co-owners Ed Brooks and Steve Rothenberger

Brode and Brooks, Inc. Realtors, co-owners Ed Brooks and Steve Rothenberger building business.

The founders operated two separate real estate agencies in 1945. Given their core strengths of industry expertise, integrity and building relationships the two agencies joined forces in the 1980s to become Brode and Brooks, Inc. Realtors. Today’s owners, Ed Brooks and Steve Rothenberger, shared more of the Brode and Brooks story.

“The Brode and Brooks team of agents have grown up and raised their families in this local area. With their years of experience, many Brode and Brooks agents have worked to assist in the sale and purchase of homes or property with multiple generations of families,” Brooks noted.

Combining their years of service with a strong network of connections to the community, Brode and Brooks agents have a wealth of local property knowledge to share with their customers. Steve Rothenberger currently sits on the Board for Upper Hanover Township and has previously served on the Upper Perkiomen Chamber of Commerce, United Way, and the YMCA’s Board of Directors. Other agents serve the community through Habitat for Humanity, Meals on Wheels, Logan’s Heroes and other non-profit organizations.

“We know it here. We live here. We were raised here. Nobody knows this area better,” Rothenberger states.

Brode and Brooks realtors work to fulfill dreams and find the perfect answer to the needs of their clients, whether it be the sale or lease of commercial & industrial, land or residential property.

“I get the most thrill in helping young couples buy their first house. It’s really gratifying when you see a young couple achieve their dream,” Rothenberger shared.

For Brooks, who specializes in commercial real estate, there is a different passion in helping clients grow their business.

“I really enjoy the clients that have very difficult requirements. When it’s a challenging assignment, it peaks my interest to find the solution to the specific needs they’ve presented,” he states.

Brode and Brooks is currently spearheading the HomeTown project, marketing to developers for a site approved for 152 residential lots. While the land is in a rural location, there is an industrial park within 10 miles–an ideal site to develop a new neighborhood. And recently, Brode and Brooks completed the sale of 19 industrial acres located on Leesport Avenue outside of Reading, Pennsylvania for $2,450,000.

Always seeking growth, Brode and Brooks is looking for new agents—offering a mentorship program for those who need an experienced mentor to guide them into the full knowledge of the real estate business.

“All of our agents are very ethical and experienced. In this business, those two qualities are basically priceless,” states Brooks.

To be served by one of the most knowledgeable real estate agencies in the local area, visit Brode and Brooks, Inc. Realtors at their office in Pennsburg.

*Article appeared 3/4/2019 on GetToKnowMontco website powered by Navitas Marketing

Are you thinking of refreshing your home’s decor? Or prepping to buy and decorate a new home?
When it comes to home design, color choice is everything. Not only can color affect mood, but it can also impact the perceived size and brightness of your space.

According to designers, here are five fashionable colors you might want to throw into the mix:
Pewter is a neutral beige-gray. It’s a functional choice that works virtually anywhere in the house. Thanks to its muted tones, it goes well with just about any color or accent, from bright and bold shades to lighter pastel ones.

Which hue is great for drawing in the eye? Mustard. It’s perfect for highlighting decor or accenting a specific part of your home. This one is best used in smaller doses because it’s so strong.
Light blues are naturally soothing. That makes them an appropriate option for bathrooms, bedrooms and powder rooms — places that could use the calming effect of these tones.
Nature-inspired deep greens are an excellent choice for large rooms. That goes double for ones with lots of windows and natural light. These dark hues aren’t great for smaller spaces — they often make the area feel more cramped.

Simple, muted pastels are perfect for places where a minimal feel is best. They also evoke cleanliness, making them well-suited to kitchens, laundry rooms and bathrooms.
These are just a few of the shades that designers are predicting will be hot in 2019. Test out swatches, consider your decor and think about how you use each space. Your home’s interior will be refreshed in no time.

Reach out today if you’d like a referral to a local interior designer.

Article compliments of:  Brian K. Perry

Nearly half of all buyers turn to online listings as the first step in their purchasing process. Adding drone footage to professional images of your property may make the sale difference in this age of digital home buyers.


Pro Drone Footage

Drone photography captures a home’s marketable assets:

Video footage can easily be shared on social media such as Facebook. With 80 percent of people in a National Association of REALTORS(c) survey reporting they used Facebook to look at potential properties, this could be key to getting the visual beauty of your home into ‘the cloud’ of sharing by social media.

Drone Footage Cons

As with any photography, there are professional and not-as-professional purveyors. And, there is a cost to expert-produced drone photography.

Does the birds eye view of your property highlight liabilities?


Remember, it may not be in the best interest of the property to have drone footage taken and shared. With their experience and a Competitive Market Analysis, your real estate agent will know if your home is in a hot market and will sell best with or without the additional expense of drone photography.

Think through the overall setting of your home. What are its marketable assets? What are its liabilities? Need help? Work with your Brode and Brooks realtor to consider the best options to market your home or property listing.

Photo by Victor Larracuente on Unsplash

house remodel in processFor years now, many of America’s home-buying trends have been shifting away from new-construction suburbs, exurbs and gated communities and back toward established neighborhoods where the trees are large, the urban amenities nearby, and the homes… well, older than most of the people buying them.

Enter the remodeling craze, which — if the reports of higher interest rates and stagnant housing starts are to be believed — shows no sign of slowing down. And while it may often be more economical than purchasing or building, updating an older home is rarely easy. And if you don’t do it right you may wind up losing money on the remodel come sale time.

So, in observance of the trend and in consideration of our agent friends who may be trying to remodel or sell an older home, here are a handful of must-have improvements we like to see on any “mature” listing.

Energy-Friendly Overhaul

The quickest way to send any potential buyer packing (or any visiting guests, for that matter) is to keep loud, gas- or electricity-guzzling HVAC equipment around. Besides the fact that they’re ugly, out-of-date ductwork, heating units and drafty windows make a house uncomfortable and cost a bundle in monthly utilities. Whether you’re staying or selling, new HVAC and energy saving windows will instantly add an air of modern sensibility and comfort to any old home without sacrificing any of the charm or tradition. Want to go farther? Install LED lighting, a smart-home system, or double down on insulation.

Outdoor Vision

Almost any old home that is well taken care of is going to have curb appeal — it’s practically a given. What you need to focus on is showing it off, which means power washing that siding or brick, making sure the landscaping compliments the home without overpowering it (no one wants to buy the bizarre begonia lady’s house), and adding touches that will make it memorable, which can be as easy as adding a charming new mailbox or painting your front door or porch. Bonus points for picket fences, detached garages and shining bay windows.

No Guts, No Glory

Okay, this isn’t the sexiest of conversations, but we have to have it: Wiring and plumbing have GOT to be addressed. What’s worse than a cold house? A cold shower, or even a warm shower that you can’t feel because the water pressure is zilch. And what’s worse than THAT? A house where the wiring isn’t up to code. If you’re selling or refurbishing an old home, you simply have to bring the plumbing and electrical work up to snuff… if you don’t do it, it’s quite possible an inspector will and the most inopportune of moments.

Modernize Where it Matters

Kitchens and bathrooms. Bathrooms and kitchens. People may not want an older home to look like a modern home, but they want the spaces where they cook their food and spend their private time to be comfortable and convenient. Don’t think a modern kitchen can’t LOOK rustic; just pay attention to the materials, colors and accessories you use there. And an old-world bathroom doesn’t have to include a clunky clawfoot tub and halo shower curtain. Because older bathrooms tend to have less space, make your walk-in shower small but mighty with dual shower heads and smoked glass.

Preserve Where Possible

You’re obviously buying an older home for a reason, right? That means you appreciate the aesthetic of the era in which the house was built, which means all that can (and should) be preserved about it must stay, right? That means floorplans, architectural details and — in most cases — the actual floors are going to need to be refurbished, not chucked out with the mauve carpet and paisley wallpaper. Get someone who knows what they’re doing to refurbish original floors, banisters and features including wainscotting and doorframes. It will cost a bit extra but you — and your buyers — are going to be glad you did it.


Photo by Milivoj Kuhar on Unsplash

Garage sales can be a great way to get rid of clutter and earn a little extra cash before you move. But make sure you plan ahead; they can take on a life of their own.

Don’t wait until the last minute.

Depending on how long you’ve lived in your home and how much stuff you want to sell, planning a garage sale can take a lot of time and energy. And that’s on top of the effort of putting your home on the market!

Contact your local government.

Most municipalities will require you to obtain a permit in order to hold a garage sale. They’re often free or cheap, but the fines for neglecting to obtain one can be hefty.

See if neighbors want to join in.

You can turn your garage sale into a block-wide event and lure more shoppers. However, a permit may be necessary for each home owner, even if it’s a group event.

Schedule the sale.

Sales on Saturdays and Sundays will generate the most traffic, especially if the weather cooperates. Start the sale early — 8 or 9 a.m. is best — and be ready for early birds.


Place an ad in the newspaper, free classified papers, and websites, including the date(s), time, and address of the garage sale. Add information about what will be available, such as kids’ clothes, furniture, or special equipment. On the day of the sale, use balloons and signs with prominent arrows to grab attention.

Price your goods.

Clearly mark rounded prices (50 cents, 3 for $1, or $5, for example) with easily removable stickers.

If it’s junk, recycle or donate it.

If it’s truly garbage, throw it away or place it in a freebie bin. Don’t try to sell broken appliances, and have an electrical outlet nearby in case a customer wants to try plugging something in.

Display items nicely.

Organize by category, and don’t make customers dig through boxes.

Stock up on supplies.

Having a stock of old shopping bags that can be reused encourages people to buy more items. Newspapers are handy for wrapping fragile goods.

Manage your money.

Obtain ample change for your cashbox, and have a calculator on hand. Assign one person to man the “register,” keeping a tally of what was purchased and for how much.

Source:  National Association of Realtors
Photo by Artificial Photography on Unsplash

A CAP RATE is the rate of return you receive on your investment. So, if you buy a $200,000 property and it nets you $12,000 – that is a 6% cap rate.

Unfortunately, investment properties frequently post a cap rate that is NOT accurate. The most common element of this “misinformation” concerns property expenses. Expenses should be all inclusive and reasonable. The lower the expenses, the higher the net return to the owner and the higher the net return to the owner – the higher the cap rate.

If a property expenses sheet shows $20,000 in expenses – is that the whole story? Probably not. Large capital items such as roofs, HVAC equipment, etc., should have an annual savings account for future expenditure. If a roof will cost $50,000 and will last 20 years and the expense sheet shows no expense for a roof – then you are not seeing true expenses.

Take your time and do a thorough analysis of the property expenses – by doing so you will make a far wiser decision on the real value of the property.

Next to zoning, environmental issues are the next most important factor when buying commercial/ industrial properties. The way in which property owners treated various chemicals a number of decades ago has a major impact when you buy properties today. If you buy a tainted property, you could well be responsible for the cost of remediation (even though you didn’t create the problem).

A Phase I Environmental Audit done during your “due diligence period” by a reputable contractor will give you a history of the property and the contractor will make appropriate recommendations for further investigations (Phase II) for any areas of suspected contamination or concern. Most contamination can be dealt with – but it takes time, money and experience.

A good ENVIRONMENTAL ATTORNEY and an ENVIRONMENTAL CONTRACTOR can walk you through the process. Obtaining an ACT 2 closure from the Pennsylvania Department of Resources will relieve you of the burden concerning a particular contaminate. This way, you can buy a “tainted” property and still be protected.

Take the time to investigate this early in your research. Every municipality has its’ zoning map and zoning ordinance online. Just because an information flyer says the property is zoned “Industrial” doesn’t necessarily mean the information is correct.

  1. Pull up the zoning map for the municipality and locate the property. Zoning maps show the various classifications and the key to the zoning map will give you the actual zoning of the property.
  2. Then go to the zoning ordinance for the township and read the classification that pertains to the property. That classification will list the PERMITTED USES, as well as those uses which fall under SPECIAL EXCEPTIONS and CONDITIONAL USES.

Now you have the information to know whether your planned use will be allowable for the property you are considering. Call an expert realtor at Brode and Brooks, Inc. if you have questions!

Buying a home is when you begin building equity in an investment instead of paying rent. And Uncle Sam is there to help ease the pain of high mortgage payments. The tax deductions now available to you as a homeowner will reduce your tax bill substantially.

Mortgage Interest

For most people, the biggest tax break from owning a home comes from deducting mortgage interest. For tax year prior to 2018, you can deduct interest on up to $1 million of debt used to acquire or improve your home.

For tax years after 2017, the limit is reduced to $750,000 of debt for binding contracts or loans originated after December 16, 2017. For loans prior to this date, the limit is $1 million.Your lender will send you Form 1098 in January listing the mortgage interest you paid during the previous year. That is the amount you deduct on Schedule A. Be sure the 1098 includes any interest you paid from the date you closed on the home to the end of that month. This amount should be listed on your settlement sheet for the home purchase. You can deduct it even if the lender does not include it on the 1098. If you are in the 25% tax bracket, deducting the interest basically means Uncle Sam is paying 25% of it for you.


When you buy a house, you may have to pay “points” to the lender in order to get your mortgage. This charge is usually expressed as a percentage of the loan amount. If the loan is secured by your home and the amount of points you pay is typical for your area, the points are deductible as interest as long as the cash you paid at closing via your down payment equals the points.

For example, if you paid two points (2%) on a $300,000 mortgage—$6,000—you can deduct the points as long as you put at least $6,000 of your own cash into the deal. And believe it or not, you get to deduct the points even if you convinced the seller to pay them for you as part of the deal. The deductible amount should be shown on your 1098 form.

Real Estate Taxes

You can deduct the local property taxes you pay each year, too. The amount may be shown on a form you receive from your lender, if you pay your taxes through an escrow account. If you pay them directly to the municipality, though, check your records or your checkbook registry. In the year you purchased your residence, you probably reimbursed the seller for real estate taxes he or she had prepaid for time you actually owned the home.

If so, that amount will be shown on your settlement sheet. Include this amount in your real estate tax deduction. Note that you can’t deduct payments into your escrow account as real estate taxes. Your deposits are simply money put aside to cover future tax payments. You can deduct only the actual real estate tax amounts paid out of the account during the year.

Beginning in 2018, the total amount of state and local taxes, including property taxes, is limited to $10,000 per tax year.

Mortgage Insurance Premiums

Buyers who make a down payment of less than 20% of a home’s cost usually get stuck paying premiums for Mortgage Insurance, which is an extra fee that protects the lender if the borrower fails to repay the loan. For mortgages issued in 2007 or after, home buyers can deduct premiums. This deduction ended in 2017.

This write-off phases out as adjusted gross income increases above $50,000 on married filing separate returns and above $100,000 on all other returns. (If you’re paying mortgage insurance on a mortgage issued before 2007, you’re out of luck on this one.)

Penalty-Free IRA Payouts for First-Time Buyers

As a further incentive to homebuyers, the normal 10% penalty for pre-age 59½ withdrawals from traditional IRAs does not apply to first-time home buyers who break into their IRAs to come up with the down payment.

However, this exception to the 10% penalty does not apply to withdrawals from 401(k) plans.
At any age you can withdraw up to $10,000 penalty-free from your IRA to help buy or build a first home for yourself, your spouse, your kids, your grandchildren or even your parents.

However, the $10,000 limit is a lifetime cap, not an annual one. (If you are married, you and your spouse each have access to $10,000 of IRA money penalty-free.)

To qualify, the money must be used to buy or build a first home within 120 days of the time it’s withdrawn.

But get this: You don’t really have to be a first-time homebuyer to qualify. You’re considered a first-timer as long as you haven’t owned a home for two years. Sounds great, but there’s a serious downside.

Although the 10% penalty is waived, the money would still be taxed in your top bracket (except to the extent it was attributable to nondeductible contributions).

That means as much as 40% or more of the $10,000 could go to federal and state tax collectors rather than toward a down payment. So you should tap your IRA for a down payment only if it is absolutely necessary.

There’s a Roth IRA corollary to this rule, too. The way the rules work make the Roth IRA a great way to save for a first home.

First of all, you can always withdraw your contributions to a Roth IRA tax-free (and usually penalty-free) at any time for any purpose.

And once the account has been open for at least five years, you can also withdraw up to $10,000 of earnings for a qualifying first home purchase without any tax or penalty.

Home Improvements

Save receipts and records for all improvements you make to your home, such as landscaping, storm windows, fences, a new energy-efficient furnace and any additions.

You can’t deduct these expenses now, but when you sell your home the cost of the improvements is added to the purchase price of your home to determine the cost basis in your home for tax purposes. Although most home-sale profit is now tax-free, it’s possible for the IRS to demand part of your profit when you sell. Keeping track of your basis will help limit the potential tax bill.

Energy Credits

Some energy-saving home improvements to your principal residence can earn you an additional tax break in the form of an energy tax credit worth up to $500. A tax credit is more valuable than a tax deduction because a credit reduces your tax bill dollar-for-dollar.

You can get a credit for up to 10% of the cost of qualifying energy-efficient skylights, outside doors and windows, insulation systems, and roofs, as well as qualifying central air conditioners, heat pumps, furnaces, water heaters, and water boilers.

There is a completely separate credit equal to 30% of the cost of more expensive and exotic energy-efficient equipment, including qualifying solar-powered generators and water heaters. In most cases there is no dollar cap on this credit.

Tax-Free Profit on Sale

Another major benefit of owning a home is that the tax law allows you to shelter a large amount of profit from tax if certain conditions are met. If you are single and you owned and lived in the house for at least two of the five years before the sale, then up to $250,000 of profit is tax-free. If you’re married and file a joint return, up to $500,000 of the profit is tax-free if one spouse (or both) owned the house as a primary home for two of the five years before the sale, and both spouses lived there for two of the five years before the sale.

Thus, in most cases, taxpayers don’t owe any tax on the home-sale profit. (If you sell for a loss, you cannot take a deduction for the loss.)

You can use this exclusion more than once. In fact, you can use it every time you sell a primary home, as long as you owned and lived in it for two of the five years leading up to the sale and have not used the exclusion for another home in the last two years. If your profit exceeds the $250,000/$500,000 limit, the excess is reported as a capital gain on Schedule D.

In certain cases, you can treat part or all of your profit as tax-free even if you don’t pass the two-out-of-five-year tests. A partial exclusion is available if you sell your home “early” because of a change of employment, a change of health, or because of other unforeseen circumstances, such as a divorce or multiple births from a single pregnancy.

A partial exclusion means you get part of the $250,000/$500,000 exclusion. If you qualify under one of the exceptions and have lived in the house for one of the five years before the sale, for example, you can exclude up to $125,000 of profit if you’re single or $250,000 if you’re married—50% of the exclusion of those who meet the two-out-of-five-year test.

Adjusting Your Withholding

If your new home will increase the size of your mortgage interest deduction or make you an itemizer for the first time, you don’t have to wait until you file your tax return to see the savings. You can start collecting the savings right away by adjusting your federal income tax withholding at work, which will boost your take-home pay. Get a W-4 form and its instructions from your employer or go to

Source: intuit | turbotax “Buying Your First Home” (Updated for Tax Year 2018)

Photo by sept commercial on Unsplash


Ah, to be a first-time home buyer again: How easy it was to buy a home when you weren’t carrying another mortgage on your back!

If you’re looking to graduate from first-timer to repeat buyer, you know things are about to get much trickier. Unless you’re a bona fide house collector, you’ll have to sell your home in order to buy anew—adding a whole separate layer of anxiety to what you already know is a stressful home-buying process.

In an ideal world, you’d buy a new home, move, and then, and when all the dust settles, deal with the turmoil of selling. But for most people, that’s totally unrealistic. Not only does it cost significantly more, since you’ll be paying two mortgages, but sellers might be quick to judge if you’re holding on to your current home.

Drew Snyder, a Realtor® with Snyder Sutton Real Estate in Topanga, CA, says one of his clients had difficulty getting sellers to “take them seriously unless the house was on the market or in escrow. As soon as we put it on [the market], they were considered as serious buyers.”

You can do this! If selling and buying simultaneously is the only way to go, here’s what you need to know to make sure both processes go as smoothly as possible.

Know the market first

Before you start seriously searching for a new home—or put your current home on the market—make sure you have a solid understanding of the housing market in your area (and the area where you’re planning to buy). Is the market weighted toward buyers or sellers?

Only then will you be able to fully strategize. As is so often the case, the best plan of action may differ depending on exactly who has the power.

That doesn’t mean to find one house you like and call it a day: Find multiple suitable options. That way, you’re less likely to find yourself in trouble if your purchase falls through—your newly sold home won’t leave you stranded.

Similarly, make sure to hire an appraiser and price your old home fairly. Now is decidedly not the time for delusions of grandeur: Two extra months on the market because you couldn’t humble yourself to lower the price means two months you’ll be paying double mortgages. Two very long months…

Plan your schedule carefully…

Should you buy first, then sell—or vice versa? Both have their risks and rewards. Selling first makes getting a mortgage easier, but it also means you’ll need to find a temporary place to live. Buying first means moving will be easier, but it also skews your debt-to-income ratio, making it harder to qualify for a new mortgage—not to mention the difficulty of juggling two monthly house payments.

“It’s walking a tightrope,” says Gary DiMauro, a Realtor in New York’s Hudson Valley. And he’s not just talking about scheduling: Your finances will be on the highwire, too. When determining whether you should sell or buy first, think beyond “How can I make the move as easy as possible?” Instead ask: “Can I handle two mortgages? What if my home sells for less than its listing?”

Whichever option you choose, make sure you’re prepared to accept the consequences: having to store your stuff and rent temporarily, or undergoing the financial burdens of dual mortgages.

… but don’t rely on timing

When buying and selling a home simultaneously, “there are so many external circumstances,” says DiMauro. “I’ve yet to see it really work smoothly and efficiently.”

Remember: You’re not the only party in this equation. For every seller there’s a buyer, for every buyer a seller. While things might appear to be working smoothly when viewing your master plan from above, that doesn’t take into account the variabilities of other people. Closings are rife with delays. Your buyers might have difficulty securing their mortgage; your home inspector may bring up issues that need to be fixed before you can move in.

“You’re relying on the seller of the place that you’re buying to be ready to move in concert with the buyer of your house,” DiMauro says.

So even if you’ve planned to sell your home first and are prepared to rent while buying, know that even the best-laid plans go awry—and you might end up juggling both mortgages. Preparing yourself for this (however remote) possibility ahead of time will ensure a smooth transition.

Know your financial solutions

For those who choose to sell first, the process is relatively straightforward other than the additional cost of a rental between homes. However, there is the option of a rent-back agreement, where you negotiate with the lenders and buyers to be able to remain in the property for a maximum of 60 to 90 days—often in exchange for a lower selling price or rent paid to the buyers. This can relieve some of the pressure of finding a new home, giving you additional time to house hunt.

But if you’re buying first, talk to your Realtor about ways to decrease your financial burden and risk. Here are the two most popular options for buyers:

Contract contingency: Buyers can request that their new home purchase be dependent on the successful sale of their old home. If you’re looking in a competitive market, this may not be a good option; however, if the seller of your intended home has had difficulty attracting interest, this may be a good deal for all parties involved—assuming you can convince them that your home will sell quickly.

Bridge loans: Bridge financing allows you to own two homes simultaneously if you don’t have deep pockets for a second down payment. This option is especially attractive if you’d planned to sell your home first and use the proceeds to buy the second. It functions as a short-term loan, intended to be repaid upon the sale of your original house.

Don’t let fear rush you

If your home has sold but you haven’t found a new place to live, don’t let anxiety push you toward a bad decision. DiMauro usually recommends that his clients pre-emptively plan on a short-term rental “so they don’t feel stressed or pushed into something that they would not normally be interested in,” he says. “They shouldn’t make a purchase because they felt like they were pressured from the time constraints.”

Found the perfect home right on schedule? That’s great. But don’t feel like you have to compromise on things that are important to you just because you need to find a home. Conversely, don’t accept a bid that you feel is too low just because your finances are strained by two mortgages. If you have a temporary apartment set up, you’re less likely to compromise.

Certainly, selling and buying a house simultaneously will be stressful—but carefully considering and planning for the risks and hurdles can mitigate the stress.

Source: – How to Buy and Sell a Home at the Same Time—Without Losing Your Mind, Author: Jamie Wiebe

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash


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