Real Estate Information Archive


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 13

Buying A Lease To Own

by Diane Cardano-Casacio & Her Team

If you’re a cash-challenged home buyer, a lease-to-own agreement may be a way to buy a home and accumulate a down payment. A lease-option also gives you a chance to check out the neighborhood and occupy the home before you decide whether you want to buy it.

What is a lease-to-own or lease-option agreement?
A lease-option agreement is both a lease that allows you to occupy the home and an option that allows you to purchase the home in the future at an agreed-upon price.

A typical lease-option agreement requires you to pay a somewhat higher monthly rent for the home and obligates the owner to credit a portion of that rent toward your down payment. For example, if the owner’s expected market rent were $1,500 per month, he or she might increase that to $1,800 per month and apply $300 per month to your down payment. After one year, you would have a down payment credit of $3,600.

A formal contract is a must
A lease-option agreement should be formalized in a written contract that specifies the monthly rent, the amount of rent that will be credited to the down payment, the sales price and the expiration date of the option. Any contingencies (e.g., your right to obtain a home inspection) or other important terms of the agreement should be stated in the contract as well.

A lease-option allows the owner to sell the home to you without paying a commission to a real estate broker. But keep in mind that the transaction is thus bereft of a broker’s advice, expertise and assistance. Payment of other closing costs such as title insurance and transfer fees is subject to negotiation and should be addressed in either the lease-option contract or a later addendum to that contract.

Lease-option isn’t an obligation to buy
A lease-option doesn’t obligate you to purchase the home; rather, it is simply an opportunity to do so with the advantages of a known purchase price and a rent credit toward the down payment. If you elect not to exercise the option to purchase the home, your credited rent usually is forfeited to the owner. This money is a form of compensation to the owner for the option, which compromises his or her freedom to sell the property to someone else during that time. Reasons why you might decide not to exercise an option include lower property values in the area, an inability to obtain a mortgage, a job transfer or disenchantment with the neighborhood or the home, among others.

Who pays taxes, insurance, repairs?
The owner is responsible for property taxes, insurance, and repairs and maintenance of the property during the lease-option term since you have no ownership interest in the property. Likewise, the owner, not you, would suffer a loss if the property were damaged or destroyed by a natural disaster that occurred during your lease-option term. Nonetheless, you may want to purchase separate renter’s insurance to cover your own personal belongings. Of course, once you purchase the property at the end of the lease-option term, you’ll be responsible for the taxes, insurance, and repairs related to the home.

Because lease-to-own agreements can be complex legal arrangements, we recommend you contact an attorney to make sure your interests are protected.

Taken from:

Oh What A Night!

by Diane Cardano-Casacio & Her Team

Hello all! So last night we had one of our monthly home seller classes, and it was quite the success! We had a great group of homeowners and investors with properties in Flourtown, Whitemarsh, Ambler and other areas and boy did they learn a lot!

We discussed some key secrets of top producing real estate agents in the way of marketing and negotiating. Check back for scenes from the class!

We'll do it again tonight, for buyers. At the Abington Library we'll hold our Home Buyer class and educate over 20 people on the whole process and how to take advantage of the tax credits!

Black Friday Ads

by Diane Cardano-Casacio & Her Team

As the holiday season approaches, many people are getting excited about the abundance of black friday deals out there. Check out this website for the advertised specials so you can plan accordingly!

FREE Class For Homebuyers

by Diane Cardano-Casacio & Her Team

Did you know that the up to $8000 Tax Credit for First-Time Buyers Has Been Extended & Expanded To Include up to a $6500 Tax Credit For Existing Homeowners?

Learn How To Take Advantage Of The Tax Credit, Low Interest Rates & Low House Prices! 

We'd like to invite you to the FREE Savvy Home Buyer Workshop on Wednesday, November 18th from 6:30-8pm at the Abington Library.

Whether you're thinking about buying a home right away or 6 months from now, you must attend this class!

This is a great opportunity to speak with a loan officer one-on-one, if you choose, and have your questions about qualifying for a home, getting a mortgage and all other questions about financing answered. Tax credits, grants and foreclosures will be discussed in addition to the *restrictions and details on the federal tax credit.

You will also learn what to do first and the step-by-step process of buying a home from the area's #1 Real Estate Team.

This no-pressure workshop is open to the public, and nothing will be sold at this event- the information is free! Registration is requested.

REGISTER ONLINE AT:! Directions will be sent upon registration.

Please feel free to forward this email to your friends, family and co-workers who may be interested in attending!

Check Out A Clip From One Of Our Workshops!

We hope to see you there!

The Diane Cardano Team

Attention Montgomery County Homeowners!!! You Must Attend This Class!

by Diane Cardano-Casacio & Her Team



Don’t Even Think Of Selling Your Home In 2010 Until You

 Attend The FREE Home Seller Class

What You Learn At The Class Can Save You Thousands!


This FREE community service program is designed to answer your questions about home selling. A top industry professional will share insider secrets and cover:

· how to get top dollar in today’s new world of real estate

· what high-tech marketing techniques are being used by top real estate professionals

· what questions you should ask a Realtor before hiring them

· how knowing the 3 negotiating tips can keep more money in your pocket

· how properly staging your home can net you 7-13% more in proceeds

· facing foreclosure?... how to sell a home without hurting your credit


Held at the Fort Washington Hilton on Tuesday, Nov. 17th from 6:30-8:30 pm

Call The Free 24 Hr Hotline To Reserve Your Seats:

1-888-708-8084, ext.300

Or register online at

Good Time To Refinance

by Diane Cardano-Casacio & Her Team

Hi all- just wanted to let you all know that it may be a good time for you to refinance. Interest rates are still low and you could save a heap of money. Give me a call if you need to know a range of value for your home. I also have a great lender I work with that can help save you in closings costs for the refinance! Call me at 215-576-8666 for the info!

Free Home Seller Class

by Diane Cardano-Casacio & Her Team

 This FREE community service program is designed to answer your questions about home selling. A top industry professional will share insider secrets, answer your burning questions and cover these topics:

 · how to get top dollar in today’s market and thisnew world of real estate

· what high-tech marketing techniques are being used by top real estate professionals

· what questions you should ask a Realtor before hiring them

· how knowing the 3 negotiating tips can keep more money in your pocket

· how properly staging your home can net you 7-13% more in proceeds

· detailed checklists and tips for first time sellers

· facing foreclosure?... how to sell a home without hurting your credit

· what steps empty nesters can take to maximize their retirement $$$

 This FREE class will be held at the

Fort Washington Hilton on Tuesday, Nov. 17th from 6:30-8:30 pm 


Call the Free 24 Hour Class Hotline To Reserve Your Seats:

1-888-708-8084, EXT. 300

Or sign up online at


Abington Leaf Vacuuming

by Diane Cardano-Casacio & Her Team

Hello everyone! Just a heads up that leaf vacuuming is taking place all over Abington township. You may want to spend the weekend raking all of your leaves to the curb. It will greatly improve your curb appeal! To see when your area is scheduled, go to

Tax Credit Officially Extended!

by Diane Cardano-Casacio & Her Team

Senate throws a lifeline to the jobless

Lawmakers pass bill extending unemployment benefits by up to 20 weeks. Legislation also extends homebuyer tax credit into next year.

By Tami Luhby, senior writer
Where does your state rank?
Americans everywhere are feeling the recession's pain – some more than others.

NEW YORK ( -- After weeks of partisan debate, the Senate voted on Wednesday to lengthen unemployment benefits by up to 20 weeks and to extend the $8,000 homebuyer tax credit.

The closely watched legislation would extend jobless benefits in all states by 14 weeks. Those that live in states with unemployment greater than 8.5% would receive an additional six weeks. The proposal would be funded by extending a longstanding federal unemployment tax on employers through June 30, 2011.

The measure would apply to those whose benefits will run out by Dec. 31, which is nearly two million people, according to Senate estimates. Those whose checks have already stopped would be able to reapply for another round.

The vote was 98 to 0.

"With 15 million Americans still unemployed and vying for just three million available jobs, we did the right thing today by passing this bill and doing it in a fiscally responsible way," said Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., who helped craft the bill. "Today, we gave unemployed Americans the chance they need to get back on their feet, get through this tough time and get working again."

The measure now moves to the House, which passed its own benefits extension in September, giving an additional 13 weeks in high-unemployment states. The two bills must now be reconciled, though the House is expected to support the Senate's version.

"Now that this legislation has passed the Senate, I will bring it to the House Floor for a vote as early as tomorrow," said House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland.

The bill would then move to the White House for the president's signature. Last week, the administration said it supports extending benefits.

7,000 a day losing benefits

The Senate has been bickering over the details since September, and that cost more than 200,000 people their benefits. Some 7,000 unemployed Americans run out of benefits each day, according to the National Employment Law Project.

Millions of Americans are now depending on unemployment benefits, as the unemployment rate continues to soar. The unemployment rate hit a 26-year high of 9.8% in September, and is expected to go even higher when the October numbers are released on Friday.

More than one in three people who are unemployed have been out of work for at least six months, according to the law project.

Lawmakers twice lengthened the time people can receive checks to as much as 79 weeks, depending on the state. But at least one Republican warned this would be the final extension.

"The public needs to ... know, this is the last extension," said Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.

Tax break for buying a home

The legislation also would extend the $8,000 homebuyer tax credit to contracts signed by April 30 and closed by June 30. The controversial credit, which many say has boosted home sales in recent months, was set to expire after Nov. 30.

The Senate's bill also created a $6,500 credit for those who buy a home after owning one for the last five years. That measure would apply to contracts signed by April 30 and closed by June 30. The current credit defines a first-time homebuyer as someone who has not owned a residence within the past three years.

The Senate bill would raise the adjusted gross income cap to $125,000 for single filers and $225,000 for joint filers. The amount of the credit currently begins to phase out for taxpayers whose adjusted gross income is more than $75,000, or $150,000 for joint filers.

"It's gonna put people back to work, the home builders, put people in the real estate business," said Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn. "The kind of jobs that can make a difference."

The extension will cost $10.8 billion over 10 years, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.

Through mid-September, 1.4 million tax returns had qualified for the credit, according to the IRS. Some portion of those returns, which the IRS couldn't specify, represents buyers who took advantage of an earlier version of the tax credit, which was only worth $7,500 and has to be repaid over time.

By the end of November, the credit will have been used by 1.8 million homebuyers, at least 355,000 of whom would not have bought a house without the tax break, according to estimates by the National Association of Realtors.

"The data on the present home buyer tax credit show that the credit has had its intended impact -- sales have jumped in recent months to a projected 5.1 million for the year and housing inventory has been trimmed, thus stabilizing home prices noticeably," said Ron Phipps, the association's first vice president, in Senate testimony last month.

The credit, however, has also posed many problems. Critics say it's a waste of money because most of those claiming the credit would have bought homes anyway.

It's also been the target of fraud. Some 74,000 people claimed more than $500 million in credits even though they may not be first-time homeowners, according to Treasury officials. And more than 580 children, including some as young as 4-years-old, have claimed the credit.

"Some key controls were missing to prevent an individual from erroneously or fraudulently claiming the Credit and receiving an erroneous refund of up to $8,000," said J. Russell George, Treasury inspector general for tax administration, before a House subcommittee last month.

CNN Radio Capitol Hill correspondent Lisa Desjardins contributed to this report. To top of page

100 Reasons Your Fireplace Doesn't Work

by Diane Cardano-Casacio & Her Team

Interesting info taken from Chimney Safety Institute of America...check it out.

Why fireplaces work, and how best to build them, has been a topic of hot debate literally for centuries. From the first stone rings stacked around the campfire, to the modern factory built fireplaces with carefully engineered dimensions, there has been a steady evolution of design parameters to make sure they draw well and cast as much heat as possible. Most of this evolution has been by trial and error, and some designs work much better than others.

Simply put, fireplaces work mainly because hot air rises. When you start a fire, the air inside the chimney becomes warmer and less dense than the air outside the chimney, and consequently it starts to rise. As the warm air rises, cooler air from the room flows into the firebox, fanning the fire, creating more heat in an ongoing cycle. There are also some pressure differentials produced as wind moves across the top of your chimney.

There must be at least 100 reasons why your fireplace may not function properly. We will try to cover some of the basics here starting with the easy obvious solutions and working towards the more arcane. Please bear in mind this is a very simplified list of the more common reasons that fireplaces don't work A true understanding of fireplaces requires extensive knowledge of air flow patterns, pressure differentials, and actual fireplace construction techniques. If the information provided here does not help you solve the problem with your fireplace, consider hiring an experienced, certified chimney sweep in your area. Often the problem is obvious to someone with enough experience once they can acutally look over the entire situation.

1) Is your damper fully open? Everybody eventually forgets to open the damper. Many dampers also cease to fully open because of water damage or soot buildup behind them on the smoke shelf. A good professional cleaning can usually solve this problem.

2) Is your firewood green or wet from rain or snow? Remember the main reason your fireplace works at all is the heat inside the chimney. If your wood is not dry and well seasoned it makes more smoke than heat and there simply may not be enough heat for the chimney to work properly.

3) Is your chimney dirty? The gradual accumulation of soot can seriously affect the way your chimney performs. Thick layers of soot of course can physically restrict the flue so there is no longer enough free area to vent the fireplace properly, (see problem 5) but as little as a 1/4" to 1/2" inch buildup can make more difference than you might think. Consider that a 1/2" buildup will restrict the air flow by 17% for a typical masonry fireplace chimney, and by a whopping 30% for the average prefab. Birds and small animals also think your chimney looks like a hollow tree in which to set up housekeeping. Sweeps often find chimneys literally packed full of leaves, twigs and baby animals. The solution of course is a good cleaning and a chimney cap.

4) Is your chimney tall enough? To function properly, the chimney should be at least 10 or 12 feet in overall height. Where it projects above the roof, the chimney should be at least 3 feet tall, and at least 2 feet higher than anything within 10 feet of it-including other buildings, trees, etc. If your fireplace smokes because your chimney is too short, the problem is usually worse when the wind blows.

5) Is your flue large enough for the fireplace opening? There are many variables that can affect this including; overall chimney height, how warm the flue stays, throat configuration, etc., but the basic rule of thumb here is that the area of the fireplace opening can be no more than 10 times the area of the flue (12 times for round flues). An undersized flue simply can't handle the volume of smoke produced, and some of it will spill back into the room. Since there is no practical way to make the flue size larger, the solution may be to make the room opening smaller with metal smoke guards or some creative masonry work. In fact there are now some premanfactured refractory firebox retrofits that work well with a 15 to 1 ratio and deliver twice the heat of conventional fireboxes.

6) Is your chimney on the outside of the house? Remember that warm rising air is the basic engine involved here. If you have a large masonry chimney on the outside of the house, and it's cold outside, the air inside of the chimney will also be very cold, and it will want to fall down the chimney instead of rising. This can even happen a day or two after it's warmed up outside. These chimneys may be hard to start and they may smoke as the fire burns low. To help get the fire started many people light some rolled up newspaper and hold it up near the damper to get that cold plug moving upwards. Keeping a moderate sized but bright, actively flaming fire can also help this situation. Remember that as the fire dies down, it will revert back to the original direction of flow.

7) Is your home too tight? Fireplaces require large volumes of air to burn. Visualize a 12" x 12" column of air rising up your chimney and exiting the top the entire time your fireplace is working (but don't visualize your heat bill!). This air comes from inside the living area and must somehow be replaced. With modern energy efficiency concerns most houses have been carefully insulated and weather-stripped to keep out the cold drafts, but an undesirable side effect is that there is often nowhere for all that air leaving the chimney to get back in. This can lead to fireplaces that burn sluggishly and smoke. A temporary solution is to open a window to let in a little make up air, preferably on the windward side of the house. It can also lead to very dangerous carbon monoxide buildup if your fireplace and furnace must compete for combustion air, and a permanent solution should be found at once.

8) Your house can also be too loose! A house that leaks too much air to the outside, especially a multistory house that leaks air in the upper levels, can actually set up its own draft or chimney effect strong enough to overpower your fireplace chimney, particularly if the fireplace is located in the basement on a cold exterior wall. Be sure the attic access door is in place and that all upstairs windows are tightly closed. 

9) Is there a return air grill in the same room as the fireplace? As the fireplace consumes air and cold air moves into the house to replace it, the furnace is likely to come on. When the furnace comes on, air is drawn into the return competing directly with the needs of the fireplace.

10) The other 91 reasons your fireplace can smoke have to do mainly with design problems when the fireplace was built. Aside from the chimney being too short, or too small, the chimney can also be too large, too tall, too crooked, etc. ad infinitum! Most of these details are fairly technical in nature, and again a good sweep may be your best bet.

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 13




Contact Information

Photo of Diane Cardano & Associates Real Estate
Diane Cardano & Associates
CARDANO Realtors
1021 Old York Road, Suite 401
Abington PA 19001
Office: 215-576-8666
Fax: 215-576-8677