What Fun the Year has been and learned something too!

As we all do this time of the year, we reflect back on the experiences of the past year and either giggle or cry. I am reflecting back on the moments that could be labeled as an educational moments to share. The names have been changed to protect the innocent. Theses are just life moments, and are not taught in school!
The first learning moment is called “I’m getting divorce soon!”
Depending on your state law, even if you and your future ex-spouse are separated and not a discharged divorce, your husband can stop the purchase of the future ex-wife. Your lawyer has to have a form signed to state he is waiving his right to stop the purchase. If this is not signed, you can not proceed. A crazy little rule!
The next thing that I have to pass on is “P.S. Look at my new car.”
You have your pre-approval and you are looking at homes. You find your forever home for your family and the garage can fit a SUV! The car dealer says It wont hurt your credit rating so you go for it. Then you need to meet your agent and show off the new wheels. Yes, your credit rating might have not changed but your income to debt ratio did by 30 to 50,000 dollars!
The next one is a simple one called P.S. should I file my taxes from last year now
OMG. Enough said…..
Now, the next one might just because of being OCD but its called “Are you sure we didn’t tell you that we were going on a week long cruise?” It is one of those Murphy’s Law things. We are just waiting to close in three weeks and, the title company finds your name on a legal document and just need to make sure it is not you. They can’t proceed with out confirmation, and the agent can not find you. So the agent keeps calling and calling and fear something bad is happening. Two days later when you are in dock, the buyers or sellers receive the voice mails and calls in a panic. Good news, hopefully it was solved. Bad news, your agent just gained some grey hair!
And finally, an strange one that did happen to me and lets call it “Pet Cemetery” or “Did I mention that we buried our pet in the basement.” Short of getting into a Stephen King type discussion, I have only had to deal with the after effect of a hole in the dirt basement floor before the final walk through. It did not kill the deal but my buyers were slightly shocked by the hole in the floor and the reason why. Don’t believe it is a disclosure issue but maybe a conversation with an addendum would help things. The family pet was buried in the dirt floor side of the basement and were moved before the final walk through. Everything was cool.
What I have learned from this past year, there is no life like a real estate agent life!
Happy New Years and Have a Great 2018!!!

My Christmas Spirit of Thanks

Most people don’t make reference to their job as being an example Christmas spirit but I have been blessed with the coolest story yet.
A couple of years ago, I was hosting an Open House. I had a family come checked out the house like everyone else but there was something about this family. There was the usual mom and children but her mom was there too. The wife was a little standoffish but her mom was the one doing all the talking and asking questions.
The reason of being distant with me was the family has had some disappointments with agents, mortgage brokers, and were not living they way they expected. They were told they had a mortgage because the mortage broker had “pre- qualified” her husband for a loan. Being in the real estate business, that means you are breathing. You need to be pre- approved because the mortgage broker researches if you can afford a house. Why was it a big deal for their family? Here it comes.
They are a family of six and the husband had just retired after 27 years of serving in the military and moved his family all over the country. His desire was to move back to the area and raise his family here. So, he retires, comes home, and finds out the whole deal of buying their forever home was non existent. No loan because of time at the employer. To survive, they split the family in half with three going to his parents and the wife with two school aged children at her mom’s. They had lived 8 months apart by the time we met and showing some straining of the family. The joke was “We can fight and just hangup the phone like the old days. ” They needed a good size house but there were few on the market in their price range during November. So I tried to go just a little bit over the limit and see if we could bring down the asking price. Great news, we found one! The sellers took it. Then came the big holiday question.
We were writing the offer up just before Thanksgiving, and he asked if we could close in about 3O days. Not realizing what he was asking I said, lets make it a goal. We had a couple of hiccups, and it looked like we were going to have to extend the contract date to just before the end of the year. With a contracted closing date of the 23RD and it was the first of December, we were looking for a miracle. His request was to be in the house by Christmas Eve so his family could be together for Christmas under one roof. See, his career look him overseas alot over the holidays and he was in Turkey for the previous holidays. He and his family gave this county 27 years of sacrifice so the least I could do was to make this happen. Lots and lots of phone calls and Tums and building a 25 foot handrail in 20° with frozen ground) we closed on the 23RD in the evening. I thought I would be cute and gift boxed the house keys to hand to them at closing. The wife cryed the rest of the closing. Good move, right!
It doesn’t end there. The next day I recieve a picture from them which I wish I could find. I knew the were not all moved in because their stuff was still in storage in three different states!
If I remember right, the picture was them in front of the fireplace with a new Christmas tree and KFC buckets on a picnic bucket. He just said Thank you and Merry Christmas. It meant so much. Merry Christmas!

One of the Benefits of being a Realtor

As we celebrate the day set aside to remember our Armed Forces Veterans,  I appreciate it more knowing how I have giving back and helped out our Vets find a place to rest. This is something that I don’t take lightly in my adventures of being a Realtor. This past year I had the Honor of helping a couple purchase their first home and make it a great place for their son. This is not a story of how great I am but how great this soldier is.

The adventure started with meeting the wife, her son, and her friend at the first house of three. With not to much to work with, I started to ask the questions of financing, area, size, and what is your commute like. The referral chit chatting started and I found out that her husband was deployed and would be coming home soon from his 9 month deployment. Short story is the third house she loved and asked if it was ok to make a call to her husband. It was a Skype call and we literally toured the house again via her showing him since he was at a computer. That house didn’t work out. The house we did find while he was home worked out! We were going through the process and I get the call. Tom, I am being deployed for twp weeks and will not have the ability to call. Take care of the house and my family. I was like what. We had challenges with the inspections and had work to do. The wife and I got it done. He was home for a week and the deal was closed on time. Thank you Jamie and Justin for letting my share in your lives…


​Tips for Moving with Children

Jennifer Coloma

Moving with children is never easy. The act of moving by itself is no walk in the park, with finding a home, planning the relocation, packing all the items, making sure finances are cleared, ensuring friends and family are aware, and so forth—adding children to the mixture can make moving appear impossible.

But with the right planning and the right interactions, you can make moving with your beloved children a thousand times easier. The following is a guide on how to move with children of all ages.
Suggest Moving

Although it seems odd to suggest moving to your child, it will actually make the act of informing them of the upcoming move much easier if you’ve already planted the idea in their brain. Doing this will also make the child feel as though they are part of the decision to move, which is crucial. As soon as you know there is a move in the future but don’t yet have the exact details, begin talking to your children about the concept of moving. Be sure to emphasize all the wonderful aspects of moving: getting a new and better room, painting their room a certain color, a bigger yard, a neighborhood with more children or playgrounds and sports fields, a nicer school, etc.

For example, if you have multiple children, maybe the benefit is that each child gets their own room; if you live in the city or an apartment and don’t currently have a yard, maybe the benefit is that you will have a yard with the next home; if you live in a school district that doesn’t offer recess time, maybe the benefit is that the new school district mandates recess; etc. For high school-age children, some benefits could be: a larger selection of electives, the opportunity to join a sports team, a school closer to home and therefore a shorter bus ride, etc.

With suggesting moving, the primary goals are to get your child to A) express what they would want out of a move and B) express excitement for the prospect of a potential move. By knowing what they want from a move in advance, you can then coordinate the upcoming move such that their wants/needs are met as closely as possible, further making the move easier. With older children, keep in mind that one of the hardest parts of a move is staying in touch with friends. Today’s technology makes staying in touch much easier than before, but it’s always good to bring up the various possibilities, from Skyping and texting friends to using social media. When possible, the ability to visit old friends is always a great item to bring up.
Inform Your Child of the Move

Once the move is certain, break the news to your child with a family meeting. Be sure to draw from earlier conversations and emphasize all the wonderful new parts of the move. If your move is a military relocation, then depending on the age of your child, they may be concerned that this isn’t a move but actually a deployment. In this event, clarify the difference between a move and a deployment and be sure to reassure them that you are staying.
Give Your Child Control

Ideally, at this stage, you’ve already given your child a sense of control by having them contribute their thoughts on what the new home should have to meet their particular needs. Once the move is underway, additional ways to give your child control include:

Assigning them a specific task to do on moving day, such as packing a special bag to take with them in the car, on the plane, on the train, etc. This will help keep them preoccupied while you’re packing and moving furniture. Children often have favorite toys that they’re particularly concerned about losing or prefer not to be without, so having them pack a special bag will help give them peace of mind and ensure those toys are safe during the move.

If traveling by car, include some of your child’s favorite snacks to help make the move an adventure. If you’re driving across the country, take it a step further and plan out a few stops at interesting places (museums, monuments, etc.) and rest stops where your child can get out and run around, such as playgrounds. Giving your child the chance to stretch their legs will help decrease the likelihood of an outburst from being cooped up in a car, and help tire them out so they’re more likely to nap through the drive.

Determining what their future room should look like by drawing it. Not everything can be incorporated, but this will tell you more about what your child is hoping to get out of the move, how to help them achieve it, and provide your child with a sense of control in the move.

Have your child create a pre-moving-day checklist of which items are especially important to pack, which should stay with them during the move, and so forth.

Have your child maintain a moving journal, such as the one we provide below, and document their journey from their old home to their new home. This journal will give them another outlet through which to express their emotions.
Getting Your Child to Pack

The child who has a lot of dolls, stuffed animals, action figures, or army men may not want to pack their toys for fear of the toy being frightened or injured. In this event, tell them that their toys need to go to sleep by being packed away during the move, otherwise they will be frightened and they may injure themselves in their fear. Once you’ve reached the new house, you can wake the toys up together by unpacking them; the toys will then be excited about being in a new home. This tactic works best on children under ten years old.
Listen to Your Child

Even very young children are capable of voicing their fears and concerns in some way. Be sure to listen to these concerns and answer any questions they have: acknowledging their worries will go a long way to alleviating them. As is the case with adults, children just want to be heard.
Maintain Your Child’s Routine

As challenging as this may seem during something so uncommon as moving, it’s important to maintain as much of your child’s typical routine as possible throughout the move and to reestablish it once in the new home. For example, if you have a ritual for going to sleep, maintain it even when the house has been mostly boxed up. If you eat a particular type of food on a certain day of the week, be sure to keep doing that as well. These routines will help ground your child and make the move appear less foreign and frightening, and more natural and exciting.
Be Prepared for Regression

Moving is just as stressful for your child as it is for you. As such, be prepared for your child to regress temporarily, especially if they’ve only recently been potty-trained. Regression may even occur after you’ve moved and as your child is adjusting to the new environment.
Enjoy the New Home Together

Home may be where the heart is, but it doesn’t always feel like that right away. It takes some work to make a house feel like a home. Even though there will be a lot of unpacking to do, take it slowly and unpack the items that make you and your children feel most comfortable and at home first. These small touches, such as favorite family photos and throw blankets, will help bring the house to life. In addition, a great way to welcome your children to their new home is to have a housewarming present waiting for them in their room, bathroom, or closet. If it’s a toy, you can encourage your child to show the toy their new home and go on a tour through the house – this will also help ease the transition for your child and give them an outlet to deal with any nervousness from the move.
Remember, children pick up very easily on emotional cues from their parents. If you’re nervous or agitated about the move, then your children will be similarly nervous and agitated. But if you’re excited about the move, then your children are much more likely to enjoy the move or at least handle it well.

Facing my biggest fear!

I know in the big scheme of things that this nothing, but it is a big thing for me. My fear of going blind, losing a foot or having a stroke has been “in my genes”as they say but I have ignored it. You know, if I don’t  acknowledge it then it won’t happen. Well this past week I have had to acknowledge it even though that all these years the last 52 years I have not wanted to. The term diabetes scares the bejesus out of me and it has happened. The doctor looked at me and told me that I am type 2 diabetic.  It could have been something worse but it was an eye opening statement still. So taking this time to reflect this past week and I have decided it is a sign to make changes. It is not a death sentence. So I have decided to make changes in my life to get rid of it. I cannot fathom losing my eyesight nor losing the ability to be mobile in a mobile world. It may be in my genes but so is alcoholism and I have beat that. So on my 52nd birthday I am making change so I can see and get to my daughters and sons weddings and see my grandchild when it happens. I enjoy seeing the sunrise and sunsets. The smiles on my clients faces hearing the clear to close, at closings and being able to see them move into the house they have saved for a very long time to get into. So how are we going to do this. I am occasionally write about my trip to beating diabetes and losing the fear of pricking my finger twice a day. And lose the prescription to the medicine does help me keep regular if you know what I mean. So how we going to do this, we are going to maintain and follow a regular diet which means I don’t know yet. That’s why I’m doing a lot of research to get the facts on how to use food to control and regulate my blood sugar. I am going to start walking a small amount so I can build up to a larger amount. And what the heck maybe even signed up to run a race. That’s a long-term goal on that one. If you don’t mind like I said occasionally I am write about my good days and my bad days and if you have any comments suggestions or thoughts please let me know. Because I know I am not the only one out there who’s in this situation and I’ll always use the experience of others to help me and guide me to a winning pass. So far my first experience which diabetes is the fear of the needle. I’ve had this fear of the needle foremost my life. I remember the first time I passed out was back as a freshman in high school in which I had to get a tetanus shot. The doctor had me in a chair asked if I felt ok and I said of course. I landed on landed on the floor. Since then, I get the sweats, increased pulse, and the anxiety of getting a needle put in my arm. It took me approximately 10 minutes my first sugar test yesterday do it. I did the test this morning and I almost got some blood on my finger. I think I hit the button and pulled it away from her finger about the same time. I did get some on the tab to give me a blood sugar rating. Going to hopefully have better luck this evening when I’m going to do it again. 

I’m off to my mom on Mother’s Day, and see my mother-in-law grave also today. The big stressor is what am I going to cook today for my wife and mother of two. She like starch and she likes her carbohydrates so it might have to be something with mashed potatoes and meat. Thank you if you made it this far in this posting and please leave any comments or thoughts the help me out. Thanks again!

Time For the Blooming Flowers and Open Houses!

As I have been adding monthly, the following are the Open Houses that I will be hosting through the month. It has many reasons. First, it is to inform of the homes that are on the market and how you can tour them without an appointment. Another reason, is to debunk the myth there is nothing to buy and finally, to increase the number of listings I personally market. As a buyers agent, I do not charge you for my services for the number of homes we see or the amount of time it takes to find the home that makes you glow in love with.

All of the following Open Houses are open from 1:00 to 4;00

The first Open House for the month of April is this coming weekend at 2000 Haflinger in North Huntingdon.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This roomy home has an open family room and a eat in kitchen that features granite counter tops and a large island. The first floor also crafted with a dining room and a roomy den. The den is currently being used as an office since it is a bit off the entry area and is enclosed with French doors. The upstairs has three bedrooms and a large owners bedroom with a walk in closet. There is a full bathroom off the hallway and an upgraded tile bathroom for the owners room. The awesome part is the of the upstairs is the laundry room is located upstairs where the dirty cloths are! No more dragging the baskets downstairs. There is a back entry two car garage and another room on the basement level.


The next Open House will be April 9th in Irwin at
717 Pennsylvania Avenue !

This magnificent 3 story home with major renovations but kept the Old World charm throughout. The glorious estate has gleaming hardwood floors, French doors, 5 authentic fireplaces (2 decorative and 3 gas). The home is equipped with 3 bedrooms and full bath 2nd level (w/new walk in shower+ tub). bedroom and den (5th bdrm) on third level with full bath. There is a Powder Room on The main level. New kitchen is finished with granite counter tops and ceramic floors. The laundry/mud room is on the first level. Main level sun room is sculptured with arched stained glass windows. Arch entry. Built in bookcases and sconces and loads of other charm throughout this fabulous home.


The following weekend is Easter so it is time to celebrate and spend time with families!



We pick it up right the following weekend, April 23rd, at 4063 Stratford Drive in the Irwin/West Hempfield area.

This wonderful brick ranch home is located in established neighborhood with great flowing floor plan. The updated and well lighted kitchen has light oak cabinets. New roof has been installed. The home is presently a two bedroom but can be converted back to a three bedroom. The lower area has a finished 12X8 room which is located next to the game room. A gorgeous Family Room is located in the back of the home and is equipped with skylights for extra light!

If you have any questions about these Open Houses, please contact me at 724-691-7220. If you have more direct questions about the listings, I can direct you to the agent responsible for the home.

Thinking of selling your home or need to upsize or downsize? Please let me know and over a cup a coffee or tea, we can chat about options and a marketing plan for a positive experience! Just send me an email to start the conversation TomSullivan@HowardHanna.com !




The Utimate Mother’s Day Present

Is it too early to start thinking about Mother’s Day presents? I don’t think so! Even if you need a little extra time to close, we can do it together! You can tell I have been watching the Sweet 16 college basketball coachs interviews.

The Spring Market Open House Tour this week and next weekend is at my listing at 2000 Haflinger in the Dartmoor Plan of North Huntingdon. 

This brick and siding home is one of the newer homes in the plan at only a year and a half old. The home has a roomy two car garage and leads to the open room waiting for your touches to make it a game room or an office or as a workout room as the current family is utilizing.

 The main floor has a large family room which is openly connected to the kitchen which could handle at least two chefs! The upstairs has four bedrooms which have closets to get all of your seasonal fashions. The owners bedroom is very roomy and accompanied by a walk in closet. The owners bathroom is designedwith a double sink and an upgraded tiled shower. 

Please stop by on Sunday the 26th or April the 2nd from 1:00 to 4:00 for the Sunday Open Houses. The April 2nd will be a Showcase of Homes Open House and can be previewed during the Showcase of Homes TV Show from 11:30 to Noon on Channel 4 WTAE on the April 2nd.

If you can not make the Open Houses, please contact me at TomSullivan@HowardHanna.com to set a personal showing of 2000 Haflinger! 

Thanks for reading and if you have any comments, please leave them or email me! 

5 Ways to Stop Pests This Spring

 Elizabeth Grepp March 7, 2017  Blog

Spring is right around the corner, and with the warmer weather come bugs and pests of all kinds. Let Howard Hanna help you to pest-proof your home this spring with these suggestions.

Keep lids on trash cans. Food attracts insects and other pests, so as you go through your checklist of spring cleaning tasks, make sure this one is at the top of the list. Examine your outdoor trash cans to ensure that lids are tight fitting. You may also want to consider using garbage bags because it adds an extra layer of protection against creepy crawlers.

Keep your kitchen clean and tidy. Food is like a gourmet bug buffet, making the kitchen and pantry a hotspot. Use glass, plastic or sealable containers for storing products such as cereal. Remember, even random crumbs leftover from last night’s dinner may be enough to attract pests. Take out the trash frequently and promptly, and don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink or on the counter!

Screen your windows. With the warmer weather, it’s nice to open the windows and have the fresh air flowing! But, your window can be a door welcoming bugs into your home. Inspect your windows and doors to ensure that they’re in good working order. Then, fix any rips or tears that could let pests inside. If you have a patio door, invest in a sliding screen to make it harder for the bugs to come in and make your home theirs, too.

Don’t forget your lawn! Take a tour of your front and back yards to see where problem areas might be. First, clean gutters as they can become a breeding ground for bugs. Second, trim hedges which, if left unkempt, can become a highway for pests to travel easily from outdoors to indoors. Third, clean and tidy up your lawn! Move firewood away from the home, and pick up fallen fruits or nuts.

Check the exterior. Bugs can sneak into the home via openings or cracks and holes in the foundation. Look for any problem areas, and seal any cracks that you may find. By doing this, you’ll prevent them from getting in through the exterior. You may also want to do this check multiple times a year.

Incorporate these recommendations into your spring cleaning routine, and you’ll keep the bugs at bay this year and in the future