Fed’s Yellen Says March Rate Rise Shouldn’t Have Been a Surprise



Spring Market Tour lands in Penn Township 

This Sunday on the 2017 Spring Market Open House Tour takes me to 118 Irene Drive in Penn Township,  MLS #1262532, $179,900. I will be hosting the open house from 1:00 to 4:00 this Sunday March 12th. 

If you are looking for a convenient place to call home, this is close to perfect. This split level home which is on  a cul-de-sac is located off of Sandy Hill Road between Rt. 130 and Rt. 30. You will be located between the shopping centers of Penn Township and North Huntingdon/ Irwin.

Inside, you have a fully equipped eat in kitchen which opens up to the dining room. When you pass through the sliding glass doors in the dining room, you will arrive to the large covered porch with views of the fenced in yard which holds your shed, pool and deck .

Dining room with walk out to porch

The downstairs has a finished game room and is tapped off with a social center area for parties! Since the party or March Madness Basketball Center is in the game room, there is another bathroom located close by! For quieter times, there is a wood burning fireplace to set the mood. There is also another room on the lower level that could be used as a 4th bedroom or a den. This room was the second garage bay and can be easily converted back.

Game room with wood burner

Social center and wet bar

And one of the most important rooms are the bedrooms. The bedrooms run in sizes of the owners bedroom of 12×15 , the second bedroom of 13×10 , and the third one of 11×13.

Owners bedroom

If you have any questions about this open, please feel comfortable to contact me at 724-691-7220 or at TomSullivan@HowardHanna.com for any questions or comments. 

Open House on the Mount

This week I have the honor of doing Teresa’s listing in the city of Pittsburgh located in the Mt Washington neighborhood. The home is located just blocks from bus stops and a 5 minute walk to Grandview Drive. The address is 303 Labelle, Mt Washington and the hosting time will be from 1:00 to 4:00pm on March 5th this weekend.

Upon entering your new home, you are greeted by charm and style. The open staircase travels up to the large four bedrooms and get to enjoy the view of the stain glass windows!

The 14’x13′ Living room has an ornamental fireplace and lots of natural light. If carpets are not your liking, the hard wood floors underneath will surely be a favorite. 

The kitchen has been completely remodeled to be a model kitchen. With the modern wood cabinets and subway backsplash, it bring the old and new styles together nicely.

The main bathroom on the second floor has also has been updated with modern textures and colors. 

If you have any questions about the open house, please contact me at 724-691-7220. Thanks for reading and if you would like me to market your home for sale, please call me so we can chat over coffee and share ideas!

Coffee, coffee, and treats

Cheesecake Cafe, Irwin

If you are looking for break from the crazy day or need to celebrate with a custom made treat , this is the place. This coffee shop has a great selection of hot coffees and steamed varieties of the soothing lattes and more. As the name also suggest , they have cheesecakes, cheesecakes, and more cheesecakes ! My favorite one is the triple chocolate cheesecake! The really nice treat of the cafe’ is it is hosted in a Victorian parlor like room and if the weather allows, there is outdoor seating !

Peace, Love, and Little Donuts, Irwin

One of the newer shops in the area but has been around the Pittsburgh area for awhile. When you get bored with the regular circled breakfast treats, you can have a donut that has toppings as unique as you. My favorite donut is the maple bacon donut followed by the coffeecake donut. So good! All of this joy is followed up by a fresh cup of coffee and we are talking a love fest! This center of the peace and love of donut perfection is located on Rt. 30 in the Irwin Plaza. I can only end this stop with , Peace Out!

White Rabbit Cafe, Downtown Greensburg

This has become my new hangout in Downtown Greensburg! This cafe is located on Main Street and up from the courthouse . It is a more of a homey cafe with different sized and made tables with unmatched chairs. Enough about of the furniture! The baked goods are out of this world! I am a simple person so when I bit into the half inch thick , warm chocolate cookie, I felt like I fell into a hole surrounded by chocolate and friendship . My vanilla cappacino was so crafted! It wasn’t squirted out of a machine or hot water and mix. You won’t be treated to that. No, no, no! It was brought to life! And it was a first for me, my cup of art had a leaf design in the foam . So cool! Just wish I could get there more often !

Colonial Grille, Downtown Irwin

“The Grille” is the reason why I live in the Irwin area. My first trip to the area brought me to Downtown Irwin and just wanted to grab a quick but non-wrapper breakfast . It looked like a place that I used to go to in my hometown in Illinois. The short story is that I sat at the counter on a swivel stool and had a ‘Rasher” of bacon, dippy eggs, home fries, and rye toast. I caught up with the local politics and I believe the man next to me was the mayor! I have already mentioned my favorite breakfast which I have enjoyed for the last 27 years, but. if you come for lunch or dinner, you have to try the brosted chicken meal. You may not be able to have chicken anywhere else. The also have a Taproom in the back and watch for the nights they have Jazz Nights !

The Manor Grill,  Manor

This gem of Manor on Harrison City-Manor Road is the place for breakfast and coffee. If you walk away hungry from here, you forgot to open your mouth! So good! And if you are looking for a lenten place for fish, my mom-in-law used to say that they must have gotten confused and fried a whale! That says it all. Another reason to support this wonderful place, The owner and staff supply Thanksgiving dinners to people who can not have one due to need. It is a great thing they do! Enjoy this gem!

Hermine Diner, Downtown Hermine

I am including the Herminie Diner even though I have not been here yet. I have had lots of business recently in the Riltton and Herminie area and I ask where is a good place for coffee and breakfast. The only place I get told is this diner. I have found out that the breakfast are under the control of a local lady who has had a much missed breakfast place across the street.Then I found out that the owner is one of the associates of the legendary ANDROS of White Oak. That means high quality of service and mouth demanding gyros! I can’t wait to make it there and enjoy some time filling up on the specials ! I’ll let you know how it goes .

Do you have a favorite? Let me know where and what I should try.

Thanks again for reading

Breaking the Lead for Fun

I came across a new web site that made it easier to enjoy time with your furry family members. And I am not talking about Uncle Harry! The name of the web site is www.Bringfido.com and if you would like to travel with your pet, the hotel reviews and pricing are easy to find. I am going to mention to a couple friends who have pet centered businesses to jump on. Seems like a great site! The following is just a small sample of the information that can be found there.

Are you and your canine support getting tired of walking around the same side of the street, around the same blocks, seeing the same pet friends. Well, it is time to break out and see the world from a different view. Our Pittsburgh area has a great selection of Dog Parks so you can make new friends and so can your human friends! Make sure you remind them to bring a snack and cool water for the both of you. With all the fun you are going to have, it will make you thirsty and builds an appetite! 

Here are just a few of the local parks just for you!

Riverview Dog Park, Pittsburgh

Hartwood Acres County Dog Park, Pittsburgh

Frick Park Off the Leach Exercise Area, Pittsburgh

White Oak Park, White Oak Pa

Penn Hills Dog Park, Penn Hills Pa

Penn Township Municpal Dog Park


Need to get away!

Tired of being tied up in the house in the house and need to get out to the big city!

I have found a couple of local places to travel with your provider and give them a day off or two with you. The following are highly rated pet friendly and human convienent hotels! Most are not to far from home so you won’t have to beg for a bathroom break on the side of the road. Enjoy!!!

Here are the hotels in the area with readers reviews

Hampton Inn Pittsburgh Greentree, Rated five bones out of five

The Westin Convention Center Pittsburgh , Rated five bones out of five

Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown, Rated five bones out of five

Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh, Rated five bones out of five

Residence Inn Pittsburgh Monroeville, Rated five bones out of five

The main advice is to call ahead to see what the policy is for the hotel that you want to stay at. Many hotels have no fee for a pet but some require an additional fee for your furry family member to travel with you. 

If you have any more pet articles you would like me to check into or have comments, please leave a comment or a like. That would be like giving me a bone and keep me going. Thanks and have a dog gon good day!

Thanks for reading!

Historical buildings in the Norwin area

The following properties are located in the Irwin area and are priceless treasures of our roots living here. The treasures are also homes to private residences so don’t trespass on the properties!

John Irwin House

The John Irwin House on the corner of Main Street and Pennsylvania Ave was built in 1836 by John Irwin. He was the nephew of the Colonel John Irwin who gained notarity while fight along General George Washington The brick home served as a stagecoach inn for weary travelers on the Greensburg to Pittsburgh run. In case you noticed, he has the same last name as the town. He was the person who laid out the plan for the land from his place to the railroad tracks of the Penssyvania Railroad. 

Brush Hill House

The house was the home to John Scull and his wife Polly. Mrs. Polly Scull was the daughter of the known local American Revolutionary veteran Col. John Irwin. To help with some of the confusion which I had, he was the nephew John Irwin that set up the town of Irwin. The home is not the original Brush Hill home that was built there. The first one was burnt down by the local Indians. They rebuilt to only have the home it by lighting. So, when he rebuilt again, he built it with fieldstone so it could stand up the weather and man!

The Brush Creek Church

This historic building is located in the Hempfield area. This church was originally built for the Reformed Church. The church started to be built in 1816 and was completed in 1820. It is a two story building with a gabled roof and has a second floor gallery. 

Fullerton Inn

There has been a couple of names for this building but the Fullerton Inn as stayed for this historic North Huntingdon place. It is located on Old Trail Road and was built in 1798. The Inn which also operated as the Jacktown Inn, Jacksonville Hotel, and the Fullerton-Sverdup House operated as an Inn into the late 19th century. The building was constructed as a Federalist style stone building. 

Andrew and Jennie McFarlane House

aka The Larimer Mansion

This wonderful home is located on Maus Drive in North Huntingdon. The home of the McFarlanes and the Larimers is a 2 1/2 story “L” shaped dwelling with a log and frame built with cedar siding. The original log home was built from 1790 and 1798. The rear wood section was added on in 1870 as a wood frame construction. As the addition was put on, the home was remodeled in the Italianate style. The Italianate was considered to be a 19th century phase of Classical architecture.

 For more information on the historic areas and buildings, either contact the Norwin Historical Society at 724-000-000 or the Larimer Mansion for a tour in the summer of the Larimer History Room at 724-863-9150. 

Cold weather tips

Us Northerners or should I say, most of us Northerners have a hate relationship with the “Cold Miser” and have some tolerances of the Heat Miser. We want to wish away the winter months. That is like three months of our life to give back to Father Time because of Mother Nature. So, I m here to help you through the winter months with some tricks and hacks on how to gain back time!

One of my favorite places to go to thaw out during the dark cloudy days is the Phipps Conservatory in Schenley Park.

First, it is warm in there to keep the vegetation living year round! It feels so warm in the summer but perfect in the winter. All the lush plants, flowers of every type are blooming with bright and cheery colors. It is Springtime 365 days a year. Then they also have special programs going on through the year to keep it new.

Another fun thing is to learn to cook a new dinner entre that requires the oven or stove top. I prefer the oven. That way it also heats up your home and the food you’re cooking is the aromatherapy for your stomach! My favorite right now is taking a pork roast or a beef roast and cooking it slowly with either Campbell’s Tavern Beef Slow Cooker sauce or Pulled Pork sauce. I use them interchange. The aroma is out of this world and the taste takes you farther than that! Some sandwich rolls and Mac and Cheese will carry you to Spring.

My last fun idea is to just bundle up and get outside for a walk in the neighborhood or a walking trail. Not only is it good to get some exercise but it also gets you out of the house. take in some new air. The house has been closed up for months now and it is getting a little stale. Another good reason is the walking with start working the serotonin. It is a fancy word for that good feeling from working out. It stimulates you brain and helps to keep the winter blues away.

If you have any other ideas that you use during these winter months, please share them. Also, if you have any suggestions, please add them too!

Thanks and have a great day! 

10 Anti-Burglary Tips for Your Sellers

When your clients are opening their doors to the public for showings, they need to take extra precautions. Share these suggestions to help them keep their belongings safe.

  December 2016 | By Tracey Hawkins
After Christmas, many people put the empty boxes their expensive gifts came in out on the curb. What do you think that says to potential burglars? It screams, “I just got a brand-new TV! Come and rob me!”
That’s just one example of some unwise habits homeowners have. If those owners are sellers opening their doors to the public for showings, habits such as these put them in even greater danger. The above example is a good warning to give to your clients now, since we’re in the holiday season. But use it as a jumping-off point to have a deeper conversation about safety — and to show that your safety knowledge is an asset to sellers.
Consider using this checklist (you can request it as a customer handout on my website) during listing appointments to better prepare prospective sellers and show your value as a real estate professional. We spend a lot of time telling sellers how we’ll market their home, and while that is obviously important, we rarely address their true concern: how to keep their home safe while it’s open to the public. Touch on these 10 anti-burglary tips so your clients will know that you have their best interest at heart.
National Snapshot of Burglaries

A burglary is committed every 20 seconds, with nearly 1.6 million such crimes nationwide annually, according to the FBI’s 2015 Crime in the United States report. That’s down 7.8 percent from 2014. Total property crime, which includes arson, larceny theft, and motor vehicle theft, reached nearly 8 million instances in 2015, down 2.6 percent from 2014.
– Maintain your property. Especially in the wintertime, many people stay indoors and neglect issues such as peeling trim or an overgrown yard. But if the home looks unkempt, thieves may think it’s abandoned and, therefore, an easy target. Shoveling your walkways to clear them of snow and debris and removing holiday decorations and fallen tree branches in a timely manner will signal that the home is occupied.
– Know your neighbors. Many people don’t really know their neighbors; it’s more than just saying hi and being friendly. Invite them over to see your home before it goes on the market, and introduce them to the people they may see regularly stopping by during this time (especially your agent). Then they’ll know who is and isn’t supposed to be at your home and can better assess when there may be a threat while you’re gone.
– Assess your home’s vulnerability. Walk to the curb and face your house. Ask yourself, “How would I get in if I were locked out?” The first thing you think of, whether it’s the window with a broken lock or the door that won’t shut all the way, is exactly how a thief will get in. Think like a burglar, and then address the issues that come to mind.
– Respect the power of lighting. Criminals are cowards, and they don’t want to be seen. The house that is well-lit at night provides a deterrent because thieves don’t want the attention and the potential to be caught by witnesses. It’s wise to invest in tools that make nighttime light automation easy. That includes dusk-to-dawn adapters that go into existing light fixtures and motion detectors. But beware of leaving your exterior lights on at all times, which signifies the occupant is gone for an extended period of time.
– Use technology to make your home look occupied. In addition to lighting, smart-home technology has made it easier to make it appear like people are home, even when they’re not. Systems that remotely control lighting, music, and appliances such as a thermostat can help you achieve this. Though not considered smart-home tech, simple lamp timing devices available at hardware stores are also good for this purpose.
– Yes, it has to be said: Lock your doors. It’s amazing how many people think they live in a safe-enough neighborhood not to have to lock their doors when they leave. Some facts sellers should know: In 30 percent of burglaries, the criminals access the home through an unlocked door or window; 34 percent of burglars use the front door to get inside; and 22 percent use the back door, according to the FBI Uniform Crime Report.
– Reinforce your locks. A good door lock is nothing without a solid frame. Invest in a solid door jam and strike plate first, and then invest in good locks. Know the difference between a single-cylinder and a double-cylinder deadbolt. Double-cylinder deadbolts are recommended because they require a key to get in and out. For safety and emergency escape purposes, you must leave the key in when you are home. But double-cylinder locks are against regulations in some places, so check with your local police department’s crime prevention office.
– Blare the sirens. Burglars are usually in and out in less than five minutes, and they know police can’t respond to an alarm that quickly. Their bigger concern is witnesses to their crime. For that reason, an external siren is invaluable, whether as part of a monitored security system or a DIY alarm. Even if you don’t have an alarm, it’s not a bad idea to invest in fake security signs and post them near doors.
– Consider surveillance cameras. The Los Angeles Police Department started a program encouraging homeowners to install a device called Ring, a doorbell with video surveillance capability that allows homeowners to view what’s outside their door on their smartphone, in a neighborhood that was a target for burglaries. After Ring was installed in hundreds of homes, the burglary rate dropped by 55 percent, according to reports. Most state and local regulations require posting a warning that people are being recorded. (But again, this can be effective even if you don’t actually have the cameras installed!)
– Mark your valuables and record details. Use invisible-ink pens or engravers to mark identifying information (driver’s license or state ID numbers) on items. Log serial numbers and take photos of your belongings. Check to see if your police department participates in the Operation Identification program. They will have stickers for you to place on doors or windows warning would-be thieves that your items are marked. These steps may prevent them from pawning or selling stolen items and can help you reclaim recovered belongings.
Tracey Hawkins

Tracey Hawkins, founder and CEO of Safety and Security Source, is a former real estate agent who, for 21 years, has been a national speaker and educator on real estate safety issues. She has created the country’s only real estate safety designation, the Consumer Safety and Security Specialist (CSSS) program.

Gardening 101: Beginner’s Guide to Protecting Your Garden from Critters

Jennifer Coloma, July 15, 2016

Now that you have a few of the basics down with our Intro to Gardening: Beginner’s Guidelines, you may be wondering: how do you protect your garden from dogs, cats, birds, raccoons, and all the wildlife that lives in your neighborhood? If you own pets, you may even be wondering how to protect your garden from them while still keeping them engaged in the yard. At Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, we’ve done the research and compiled this handy guideline so you can spend less time guessing and conducting trial-and-error processes and more time enjoying your critter-free garden!


Dogs may be “man’s best friend,” but they can also be a “garden’s worst enemy.” Similarly, while cats are wonderful creatures and great hunters, they can also be a bit overly friendly with the plants – sometimes eating, trampling, or rubbing against them too affectionately. Here are some ways to keep your pets happy and your garden safe:

  1. Spicy & Bitter Plant-Based Repellents: Both dogs and cats, along with many other animals, dislike bitter and spicy plants. Use this natural repellent to protect your garden by either sprinkling it into the dirt or turning it into a liquid solution and spraying it on your plants. There are a variety of different combinations, from crushed dried peppers mixed with powdered mustard to coffee grounds with bitter orange or straight up chili pepper with water. Keep in mind that when taste-based repellents are sprayed on plants, they have to be reapplied after rain, and that they will affect the taste of food. So if you’re growing a vegetable garden and are allergic to peppers, avoid this tactic. Additionally, be careful when creating pepper-based sprays as pepper products are known to irritate eyes, skin, and your nose. Protip: coffee grounds not only repel dogs, but are also a great fertilizer!
  2. Pungent Plants: Some plants smell so terrible to animals that they don’t want to go anywhere near them. Plectranthus caninus (also called Coleus canina) is a mint-based herb that many call the “Scaredy Cat Plant” due to its ability to deter cats. No scientific research exists to back up the claim though, and a side-effect of the plant is that cats will often avoid the plant and go straight to more pleasant areas in your yard – such as your garden. Tall-growing varieties of lavender are reportedly more effective than the Scaredy Cat Plant and additionally have the benefit of smelling wonderful. If you’re aiming to experiment with different plants for one that repels cats or dogs, keep in mind that some plants are actually quite toxic and dangerous to your pet’s health. For some plants to avoid, check out this Houzz.com article featuring 22 different plants that you should keep away from your pets.
  3. Built-in Paths: Instinctually, dogs perform periodic patrols around the edges of their territory, trampling through your unfenced vegetable garden or gallivanting across the flowerbed, to ensure that their territory is safe and well protected. Instead of scolding them for trying to protect you, build a designated path around the perimeter of your yard that they can use for patrolling. If you’re using mulch as part of the path, take into consideration your dog’s fur coat, as finer mulch will cling to long-haired dogs and end up in your house or on your furniture. Protip: cedar chips are great ground cover to protect your dogs and cats from fleas!
  4. Catnip: For the overtly affection cat rubbing against all your plants, or the cat digging up your seedlings, provide them with catnip in an area away from your garden. The overpowering scent will attract them to this plant, as opposed to your garden, and they’ll spend their energies there. If you want to be sure your cat spreads their scent around your garden so wild animals won’t be enticed by the defenseless plants, then build a short fence around your garden and place the catnip outside of that fence.
  5. Digging Deterrents: Dogs dig. When addressing digging, first try to determine your dog’s end game: is it trying to cool off, to escape, to bury a toy, or to be distracted? As with building a path around your yard, you can be proactive and provide your dog with a designated digging spot to bury items and frolic, similar to a sandbox. Encourage your dog to use the sandbox by putting toys in there and praising them when they use it. For cooling off, provide a shady place to hide or a miniature pool to climb into. For escape artists, adding boards or chicken wire at or below the soil line is another good deterrent. Some people recommend planting periodic wooden stakes throughout your garden to make digging unpleasant; just be sure these are visible so they don’t harm your dog. For cats, placing obstacles such as bricks underneath the dirt and around your garden is an option.
  6. Designated Bathrooms: Some dogs just need a place to relieve themselves, or an item to mark as their own. Providing dogs with a specific part of the yard to call their own is a good way to keep your grass green and your plants from dying off. If you don’t want to deal with keeping the grass green in this designated spot, use gravel instead. It’s not only easy to wash off, but dogs also tend to prefer gravel to grass!

Wild Animals

The easiest way to get rid of many animals is to own cats or dogs and let them roam your yard freely. This isn’t always possible or the most animal-friendly option though, so here are some other methods of protecting your garden from wild animals:

  1. Egg Shells: Many animals, such as squirrels, raccoons, and rabbits, will dig up and eat plant seeds or eat the plants when they’re still small seedlings. At this stage, sprinkling broken egg shells on top of your garden and mixing them into the dirt is not only extremely effective at making digging an unpleasant activity but also a great fertilizer for those little seedlings.
  2. Fencing: Although not always attractive, often one of the best and most-effective ways of keeping all animals, including deer and birds, out of your garden is to build a tall fence around the entirety of it and to cover your plants with bird netting or chicken-wire cages. Raccoons are capable of digging but also dislike having anything stick to their paws, so draping bird netting on the ground is an effective countermeasure. Building the fence out of a material that animals cannot see through and attaching noise-makers to the fencing also work well.
  3. Removing Habitats: One of the simplest solutions is to make your yard unappealing to the average animal by removing the groundcover in which they would naturally hide or nest. For rabbits, this means removing low-growing shrubs, tall grass, and rock and brush piles from the immediate area around your garden. For groundhogs, be sure to block the area beneath any deck, porch, or shed. Otherwise, they’ll make themselves a cozy home.
  4. Predator Urine: If you don’t own a cat or dog and natural predators aren’t abundant in your area, then predator urine, such as coyote urine, is a good way to frighten off animals invading your yard. The predator urine will make them think it’s unsafe to inhabit your yard as a predator already lives there. Unfortunately, predator urine needs to be re-applied weekly and especially after rain. With large yards, pouring the liquid urine can get expensive. An alternative is hanging liquid urine dispensers; these only need monthly refills.
  5. Predator Decoys: In place of predator urine, another tactic is to place predator decoys around your garden. Owl statues frighten off raccoons and predator lights scare most other animals, from bunnies to dogs. The Solar-Powered Nite Guard, which costs $24 on Amazon, is waterproof and charged by sunlight. It automatically turns on at night and begins to emit a periodic flash of red light that frightens off many animals. For engineers, an alternative is to build and program your own solar-powered, motion-activated predator light with red LED lights and a Raspberry Pi. Just be sure to make your equipment water-proof in the event of rain.
  6. Electronic Repellents: Other electronic repellents, such as motion-activated sprinklers and timer-based vibrators, are great at targeting skittish groundhogs, moles, and chipmunks.
  7. Designating An Animal Garden: If you’re growing a vegetable or fruit garden, try blocking off your garden with a fence or caging and then creating a smaller, open and accessible garden in another area of the yard that is specifically for animals. Having this second garden will make attempting to get into your actual garden especially unappealing, as there is an easy food source in the same vicinity.

If all else fails, there’s always the option of moving all the plants indoors or hosting your own greenhouse vegetable garden! Having potted plants throughout the house has been known to drastically decrease stress and enliven the indoor environment. Just keep in mind that if your food garden has been moved inside, some plants need to be pollinated by wind or bees to produce vegetables or fruit, and so will need to be hand-pollinated.

If you have tips or techniques on keeping wild animals or pets out of your garden, we’d love to hear about them in the comment section below!