Category Archives: Winter

Where to Warm Up with the Very Best Cocoa in Philly and The Southern NJ Shore

It’s cold outside! Warm up from the inside out with some delicious hot cocoa. We’ve compiled a list of the very best spots to grab a sweet and delicious cup of cocoa in the area. So get out there and start comparing some of these insanely delicious hot chocolates. We’re pretty sure cocoa might just be the best internal heating system you can find when the weather is this chilly!

Best Cocoa for History Buffs

Shane Confectionery

Warm up with a soothing cup of cocoa and a side of history. This chocolate shop in Old City serves up some of the best super rich drinking chocolate style cocoas that were loved in years gone by such famous historical figures as Thomas Jefferson.

Best Cocoa for Vegans

Hip City Veg

If you love a cocoa but don’t love dairy, check out this spot! Partake in the delicious warmth of cocoa without the animal products you avoid at this spot.

Best Cocoa for Francophiles

J’aime French Bakery

If you want to pretend the streets of Philly are actually the streets of Paris, then check out this bakery. Grab one of their signature treats alongside your delicious cup and pretend you’re living life like a true Parisian.

Best Cocoa for Comfort

The Little Lion

This Southern restaurant makes the best southern food around. They’re no stranger to comforting classics. Follow up a delicious meal with a cup of their S’More Hot Chocolate to transport yourself back to fun times around a campfire.

Best Cocoa for Indulgence

Ventnor Coffee

This spot in Ventnor City is crafting a cup of hot chocolate worthy of the title “Ultimate.” Topped with whipped cream, marshmallows, and a drizzle of delicious sauces, this cocoa will satisfy your need to indulge and warm you to the bones.

Best Cocoa for Spice

Puyero Venezuelan Flavor

Spice up your cup, literally! Finish a meal at this Venezuelan spot with a cup of their cinnamon spiced cocoa. Transport yourself to sunny Venezuela while you sip this intensely flavorful cocoa.

Best Cocoa for Alongside a Cannoli

Anthony’s Italian Coffee and Chocolate House

If you haven’t tried the cannoli at Anthony’s yet, you’re in for a treat. Grab a cup of cocoa alongside your cannoli and settle in for a sweet and decadent vacation.

Best Cocoa for Chocoholics

Max Brenner

Of course every single location on this list makes cocoa for chocolate lovers. But if you want your hot chocolate in a location specializing in the art and craft of chocolate making, head over to Max Brenner for a cup of their delicious brew.

The Silva Group is comprised of the Philadelphia area and southern New Jersey Shore’s  best and brightest in the real estate industry and we are here to help you with all your real estate needs. We are experts in our field and are here for you. Contact us today to see how we can help.

How to Keep Your Home Cozy This Winter

As the temperatures take their dip into the territory of “uncomfortably cold,” you’ll want to ensure your home stays as cozy as possible. Don’t wait until the weather outside is below zero to tackle this list. A little bit of preparation will mean your home is warm and you’ll stay as cozy as possible as we settle into winter.

These five tips are a great start to ensure you’ll spend the winter as comfortable as possible.

  1. Replace Filters

By replacing the filters in your furnace or HVAC system regularly, you’ll ensure your home is being heated as efficiently as possible. It’ll save you some money on your energy bill, but more importantly, it will ensure your heating system can do its job without a struggle. Check your filters today, and begin a habit of changing them every 3 months in the future to keep things running smoothly.

  1. Check Doors

Take a look at your doors and ensure there aren’t drafts. Inspect your home’s exterior doors by taking a look at the seal around each door. Age causes these seals to deteriorate. Replace any broken seals with a quick trip to the hardware store and keep the heat in your home from escaping.

  1. Have Your Home Audited

Have a professional take stock of your home’s energy efficiency. By taking a look around your home for energy leaks, you can save on upcoming bills and help your home to stay warm more easily this winter. An inspector will not only find the causes of energy leaks in your home, but they will also give you practical advice to avoid future leaks.

  1. Cover Windows

You can add films to the windows around your home to ensure as little heat is lost as possible. Another solution is to add heavy window treatments to the windows. Some window treatments are even marketed to help assist with heat loss. Not only will you keep your home warm, but you can add a decorative element to a room.

  1. Seal Ducts

A tremendous amount of heat is lost while traveling through heating ducts. Take some time to seal these ducts, or hire a professional to do so. Sealing the ducts will make it easier for your heating system to heat your home and can ultimately save you money.

By putting these tips into practice you can ensure your home will stay warm and comfortable throughout the cold months. And, even more importantly, you might save a little bit of money in the process.

The Silva Group is comprised of the Philadelphia area and southern New Jersey Shore’s  best and brightest in the real estate industry and we are here to help you with all your real estate needs. We are experts in our field and are here for you. Contact us today to see how we can help.

This Month in Real Estate – December 2017

This Month in Real Estate
December 2017 Market Update
decorative image
Monthly VideoAccording to the National Association of REALTORS®, existing home sales picked up in October, overcoming ongoing inventory shortages. Healthy job growth and wage increases are fueling continued strong demand in much of the country.
Interest Rates
decorative image
Monthly VideoAccording to Freddie Mac, 30-year fixed rates rose from 3.88 percent to 3.90 percent. This rate remains well below the historical average of 8.90 percent.
Home Sales
decorative image
Home Sales Graph
The National Association of REALTORS® reported home sales at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of approximately 5.5 million homes during the month of October. This was an increase of 2.0 percent from September and a decrease of 0.9 percent from October of last year.
Home Prices
decorative image
Home Price Graph
The median home price decreased to $247,000 in October, which was down 0.2 percent from September and up 5.5 percent from October of last year. The median home price has increased by approximately $12,900 in the past year alone.
Inventory
decorative image
Inventory Graph
There was a 3.9-month supply of housing inventory in October, which was a 7.1 percent decrease from September. The total number of available homes for sale has decreased by 11.4 percent compared to October of last year.

decorative image
Real Estate Trends

decorative image

Home prices have risen nationally three times faster than incomes since the turn of the century, which has made home ownership an impossibility for more Americans than ever before.

In many large cities, home prices have outpaced income. In Miami, for example, incomes have risen 16 percent, while home prices have increased 58 percent since early 1998. New York’s Long Island suburbs have seen just a 14 percent rise in incomes as compared to an 81 percent increase in home prices. Boston home prices have gone up 89 percent, while incomes have increased only 22 percent.

Even with a downturn in the real estate market looming on the horizon, home sales are still headed for another record year.

The first sector to show slowing is the high-end home market. Because of “overpersonalized” big-ticket properties, the pace of house auctions nationwide has surged.

Low interest rates are the only continuing positive trend of the housing market. Low rates average now less than 6 percent for 30-year fixed-rate loans, the lowest since the 1960s.

Real-estate analysts believe that if the housing market stalls, some areas will continue to grow modestly while other markets gradually go soft, rather than pop.

decorative image

Brought to you by KW Research. The opinions expressed in This Month in Real Estate are intended to supplement opinions on real estate expressed by local and national media, local real estate agents and other expert sources. You should not treat any opinion expressed on This Month in Real Estate as a specific inducement to make a particular investment or follow a particular strategy, but only as an expression of opinion. Keller Williams Realty, Inc., does not guarantee and is not responsible for the accuracy or completeness of information, and provides said information without warranties of any kind. All information presented herein is intended and should be used for educational purposes only. Nothing herein should be construed as investment advice. You should always conduct your own research and due diligence and obtain professional advice before making any investment decision. All investments involve some degree of risk. Keller Williams Realty, Inc., will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on information contained in This Month in Real Estate.

 

Buyer Beware: Porch Crimes

The trappings of the holidays fill most of us with joy, love, and peace. But for criminals, the holidays can mean ample opportunity to exercise their greediest plots. Thieves want to nab your gifts again this year. Except, instead of breaking and entering, they stalk neighborhoods to swipe parcels from porches.

You don’t have to be a victim of these crimes. Use a few of these helpful tips to keep yourself safe and keep your online purchases from delivery-swiping delinquents.

Desk Delivery

Instead of shipping your presents to your home, have them delivered to your place of work. (Of course, ensure that personal deliveries are in-line with your company’s policies.) Delivery to your office ensures packages won’t be left vulnerable on your doorstep.  Plus, as an added bonus, the prying eyes of family members won’t catch a glimpse of a return address and risk discovering their gift!

Signature Safety

Keep your parcels safe and get to know your neighborhood delivery drivers.  By requiring signatures on deliveries, your packages will go straight from the truck into your waiting hands.  You’ll also have a chance to say a friendly “hello” to some of the hardest workers during the holiday season! We can all agree, a good relationship with your mailman and delivery drivers never hurts.

Locked Location

If you receive valuable packages regularly, a lock box on your porch is a good investment to safeguard against theft. Delivery personnel can drop your packages in the box and lock it behind themselves. Boxes such as this one keep packages out of sight and safely locked away until you can claim your deliveries.

Video Vigilance

Installing a video system keeps an eye on your treasures when you aren’t able. Video surveillance technology is more accessible and affordable than ever. A small camera can deter thieves from perpetrating crimes, and they’ll also help identify criminals who may be targeting your area.

Purchasing your gifts online has changed the way we shop, but it has also changed the way criminals target consumers. Protect your deliveries this holiday season so that you can focus on the peace, love, and joy that the holidays bring.

The Silva Group wishes you a safe and joyous holiday season!

Winter Home Maintenance Tips Every Homeowner Needs To Be Aware Of

Winter is officially just around the corner, and the cooler weather is already here.  If you haven’t taken the steps to winterize your home, now would be the time.   Keep your home in top shape as the temperature outside continues to drop. Here are a few home maintenance tips every home owner in Eastern Pennsylvania should be aware of.

Fireplace

Your home’s fireplace is perfect for snuggling up to on those cold winter nights. Before firing it up for the first time this season there are a few things you should do.  Have your fireplace cleaned each year to rid it of creosote that accumulated during last year’s use. If the creosote is not removed it could cause a fire in your chimney.

Plumbing Pipes

Cold weather can cause a strain on your home’s pipes and if you are hearing funny noises then there is a good chance your pipes need to be checked.  When below-freezing temperatures set in there is a chance that water built up in pipes could freeze and cause leaks, cracks or even break. In fact, frozen pipes that burst are one of the top causes of home insurance claims.  To prevent your pipes from freezing, insulate any outdoor pipes that are exposed with foam.  For outdoor faucets or spigots install an insulating dome so that water inside the pipes is less likely to freeze , expand, and break.

Insulation

The insulation in your home’s attic will keep the ceilings in your home from air leakage.  Over the years insulation can become worn down from pests and weather. As a result, your heating system is left working overtime to make up for it.   Inspect your attic to see if new insulation is needed and if so call a professional to have it installed.

Roof

If you did not inspect your home’s roof earlier in the season you should do so now. The roof on your home takes the direct impact of a lot of winter’s weather.  You should be checking your roof regularly for any signs of damage such as loose or broken shingles.  Missing or damaged shingles could lead to water finding its way into your attic. If you notice any damage to your roof, contact a local roofing contractor as soon as possible.

Keep your Eastern Pennsylvania home in top working order this winter. If you are looking to buy or sell a home The Silva Group is here to help. Contact us at any time or feel free to call us directly at (267) 202-7400.

BRRR! Winter Storm Warnings, Watches and Advisories – What You Should Know

With winter weather around the corner, it never hurts to refresh our memories when it comes to all the different weather watches, warnings, and advisories that we will see the National Weather Service (NWS) issuing.  From wind chill advisories to winter storm warnings here is the break down on what you need to know to be prepared.

Winter Storm Watch, Warning And Advisory

If there is potential for significant or hazardous winter weather you can expect the NWS to issue a Winter Storm Watch.  This means there is a possibility in the next 48 hours that conditions are right for hazardous winter weather. Hazardous weather is defined as one or more of the three conditions listed below:

  • 5 inches or more of snow/sleet that will occur in a 12-hour period of time or 7 inches of snow/sleet in a 24-hour period of time
  • Ice accumulation to the degree that it could cause damage to power lines and trees
  • A mix of snow/ice accumulation accompanied by wind that is life threating or possible of causing damage

If a Winter Storm Watch means there is potential for hazardous weather, a Winter Storm Warning is issued by the NWS when hazardous winter weather is imminent or is already occurring.  Hazardous weather in this instance means the same as the three examples above.

A Winter Storm Advisory is issued by the NWS when 2 to 4 inches of snow is expected by itself or with sleet and freezing rain, and it is anticipated, but not expected to be dangerous enough to be a warning.

Many winter storms seem to also come with Wind Chill Advisories or Wind Chill Warnings.   A  Wind Chill Advisory is issued when wind chills are expected to be -5F to -19F and a Wind Chill Warning is issued when wind chills are expected to be -20F or lower.

Stay alert when bad weather is expected and most of all stay safe this winter season.

If you are looking to sell a home in Eastern Pennsylvania The Silva Group would love to help. We are comprised of the Philadelphia area’s best and brightest in the real estate industry. It would be our pleasure to help you buy or sell a home. Contact us at any time or feel free to call us directly at (267) 202-7400.

 

Understanding The Difference Between Freeze/Frost Watches, Warnings, And Advisory’s

With deep cold just around the corner, it never hurts for you and your home to be prepared. However, some of the National Weather Service’s watch, warnings, and advisories can be confusing at times. From frost to freezes, we have you covered. Here is a breakdown of what you need to know.

Frost vs. Freeze

While the terms frost and freeze are sometimes used interchangeably, there is a very distinct difference and they are directed towards growing season for farmers and home gardeners. Frost advisory’s and freeze warnings can only be issued during the growing season!

When freeze warnings are issued there is expected to be widespread significant freezing temperatures in the area.  Freeze warnings are issued from spring when growing season begins, all the way into autumn when freezing temperatures could damage still growing plants and crops.  A freeze occurs when the air temperature on the surface is predicted to be 32 ° F or lower throughout the area for an extended period of time.  A freeze watch is issued when the air temperature has the potential for freezing temperatures in the upcoming 36 hours.

A frost advisory is issued by the National Weather Service when the minimum temperature is expected to be between 33° and 36° on nights when it is clear and calm during growing season.  During growing season, cover your plants before the sun goes down to prevent damage.

What Does These Mean For You?

What does that mean for you when the National Weather Service issues a frost or freeze advisory or warning? If you are a gardener, get your vegetables harvested in time.  Basil and other delicate herbs need to be removed from the garden before even a light frost. Many vegetables can survive a light frost by covering them at night.

If you are a pet owner, it is best to keep all pets indoors during a warning or advisory. While taking your dog out on walks, consider dog sweaters. If you have a dog that must live outdoors, provide a doghouse and keep it elevated off the ground and provide some form of warmth for the dog, such as a blanket or straw.  Your dog will need more food during this time as the cold weather causes the dog to use more energy.

If you own a vacation home or summer home and it will not be in use over the next few months, now would be the time to winterize it. Homes without the heat on during the colder months will result in frozen and burst pipes.

If you are looking to buy a home this fall The Silva Group would love to help. We are comprised of the Philadelphia area’s best and brightest in the real estate industry. It would be our pleasure to help you buy or sell a home. Contact us at any time or feel free to call us directly at (267) 202-7400.

 

Preparing Your Home For Winter

Before Winter Arrives:

Heating System

  • Have your furnace or boiler checked and serviced by a licensed contractor at least once a year, preferably before the heating season begins.
  • Clean or replace the furnace filter on forced hot air systems.
  • Have your chimney checked and serviced by a licensed contractor at least once a year.
  • If you plan to use a wood burning fireplace it is best to have a professional chimney inspector check it yearly and have it cleaned every 1-2 years.
  • Make arrangements now for wood delivery for your wood fireplace. Even if you don’t plan to use it during the winter, be sure you have enough wood for 3-5 days on hand before winter in case a storm causes you to lose power for multiple days.

Insulation

  • Check your windows and doors to be sure they are caulked and all weather stripping is in good condition to protect against drafts.
  • Remove screens from windows and install storm windows, if applicable.

Plumbing

  • Check for any leaks and fix problems immediately.
  • Wrap your pipes in UL-Listed heat tape and insulate if it is exposed in unheated areas such as garages, crawl spaces, attics or basements.water-shut-off-valve-hanger
  • Know how to shut off your water.  Locate your main water shut-off valve. We’ve included a tag you can put on it to make it easy to find later.
  • Check the operation of all sump pumps, sump pump switches and floats.
  • Eliminate sources of cold air near water lines by closing off crawl spaces, fixing drafty windows, insulating walls and attics, and plugging drafts around doors.

Exterior

  • Mark  your well, septic lids and driveway boundaries with markers at least 4” tall.  Hardware stores sell poles for this purpose.
  • Check that all propane and oil tank inlets are accessible for delivery
  • Clean and put away lawn and garden equipment.
  • Disconnect all hoses from hose bibs and store them where they won’t freeze
  • Trim trees and remove dead branches so they won’t cause damage to your home during ice, snow or wind.
  • Keep gutters clear of leaves, sticks and other debris to help ensure melting snow and ice can drain properly. Make sure downspouts direct water away from the foundation.
  • Ensure your steps, sidewalks and handrails are in good condition to avoid injuries during ice and snow.
  • Check your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors batteries. Carbon monoxide detectors are very important during the winter when heating fuel is being used.
  • Make sure you have a snow shovel that is in safe condition to use. A roof rake is also a good idea to have on hand in case of a heavy snow fall.
  • Make sure you have an approved safety container ready to store fuel in for snow blowers and/or generators. Keep fuel away from heat or flame producing devices and do not store fuel in your basement.

When The Cold Air Arrives

Heating System

  • Have your fuel tanks filled and keep an eye on levels throughout the winter.
  • Set your heat no lower than 55 degrees as the temperature inside the walls where water piping is located is colder than the living spaces; open doors to unoccupied rooms to keep an even temperature throughout the house.

Plumbing

Key Steps if temperatures stay below freezing:

  • If pipes run through cabinets or vanities, open the doors to let warmer room temperatures flow in.
  • Keep water moving through the pipes by allowing a small trickle of water to run. The cost of the extra water is typically lower than the cost of repairing a broken pipe.

If your pipes do freeze:

  • Shut off the water immediately Don’t attempt to thaw pipes without turning off the main shut-off valve.
  • Thaw pipes with warm air .  You can melt the frozen water in the pipe by warming the air around it with a hair dryer or space heater. Be sure not to leave space heaters unattended and avoid the use of kerosene heaters or open flames.

Don’t Forget To Make Your Emergency Kit:

  • Flashlights
  • Bottled Water
  • Nonperishable Food Items
  • Blankets
  • Phone Numbers For Your Utility Companies
  • Batteries
  • First Aid Kit
  • Tea lights
  • Terra Cotta Pots

Did you know that you can make a mini space heater with tea lights and terra cotta pots?

 

If You Own An Eastern Pennsylvania or New Jersey Home This Is What You Need To Do About The Snow

Snow removal is never anyone’s favorite thing to do, but after the snowstorm we experienced this past weekend there is plenty of snow that needs removed.  If you are a homeowner in Eastern Pennsylvania or New Jersey, there are responsibilities you must take care of to keep your home from being damaged, and to keep you and your guests safe.

Each city and state has their own unique rules that are required when it comes to snow removal and you should check with them to make sure all regulations are followed, but in general here are a few good things to keep in mind.

If you have a sidewalk you may wonder if it is your responsibility to clear it, and yes it is.  As a homeowner you would be held responsible if someone were to fall and become injured due to falling on your obstructed walkway. There is an exception to this rule and that is if you live in a condo or co-op that charges a fee to hire a snow removal service it may not be your responsibility. Check with your board to see if snow removal includes both driveways and walkways to your condo.

Snow can also result in an ice dam building along your home’s roof which could lead to damage. An ice dam occurs as your home’s roof heats up and the snow higher up melts and freezes once it reaches the gutter. As the water continues to freeze and the frozen section grows bigger, the water is no longer able to drain and it will back up and seep under your home’s shingles and will find its way into your home. The water that leaks inside your home as a result of an ice dam can damage your walls and ceilings among many other places.  Not all leaks are always quickly noticeable. Leaks from water getting under your shingles as a result of water backing up from an ice dam may cause insulation to get wet and joists to rot, all which could lead to mold growth.

You can prevent an ice dam from happening by stopping heat loss from your roof. Your main objective should be to keep heat from reaching your home’s roof.  You can prevent this by having your attic properly insulated and vented.

The sheer weight of snow on your home’s roof can result in your gutters and downspouts pulling away from your home, and it could take the fascia boards with it. Removing the snow off your roof can stop this from occurring. There are snow rakes you can use, or a broom also works well to help remove the buildup of snow on your roof.

Stay safe this winter season and make your home safe to visit as well. If you are looking to buy or sell your Eastern Pennsylvania or New Jersey home this winter, The Silva Group would be delighted to help.  Contact us at any time or feel free to call us directly at (267) 202-4955.

The Silva Group is comprised of Philadelphia and New Jersey’s best and brightest in the real estate industry. Our team is more than a bunch of real estate agents packed into an office – we are friends and family members who all have one passion – to provide the very best real estate experience possible to our clients.

5 Jolly Reasons To List Your Eastern Pennsylvania or New Jersey Home During The Holidays

Many homeowners see the summer as the prime time to sell a home, and for some reason there is a perception that winter months are the worst time of year to sell a home. While it’s true some parents try to move during the summer to be in a new place for the new school year, there are plenty of buyers during the holiday season, and homes sell all year-round.

Here are five good reasons why you should consider listing your Eastern Pennsylvania or New Jersey home this holiday season.

  1. Serious buyers: Those buyers looking to buy a home during the Holidays are serious buyers who are ready to move quickly. Those serious buyers are faced with fewer houses to choose from.
  2. Competition: With fewer homes to choose from during the holiday season it means less competition and as a result, more money for you!
  3. Home Searches: Believe it or not, home searches on the internet surge during the holidays. With the ability to view homes online, buyers are able to create a list of their preferred homes. You want your home to be found during this period of time. If you are not ready to list your home right now, consider letting us use the “Coming Soon” feature on Zillow. As a Zillow Premier agent we can pre-market your home as coming soon for up to 30 days before it goes active. This provides the opportunity for buyers to find your home during their holiday searching and allows for us to gauge buyer interest and line up potential offers.
  4. Showing: Homes show better when they are decorated for the Holidays, and buyers tend to be more emotional during this period of time and are more likely to pay your asking price.
  5. Taxes & Jobs: Many buyers are looking to buy this time of year due to tax reasons. Also, January is traditionally the time of year where employees are beginning new jobs and relocating. Be seen now so that when they are ready to make their move, you are able to capture the market.

If you are looking to sell your eastern Pennsylvania or New Jersey home this winter, The Silva Group would be delighted to help.  Contact us at any time or feel free to call us directly at (267) 202-4955.

The Silva Group is comprised of Philadelphia and New Jersey’s best and brightest in the real estate industry. Our team is more than a bunch of real estate agents packed into an office – we are friends and family members who all have one passion – to provide the very best real estate experience possible to our clients.