Real Estate Information Archive


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How to Work with a Builder

by MMRES New Construction Specialists

When you decide to build your dream home, there’s nothing more important than choosing the right home builder. The construction process, no matter how well planned out, is often fraught with obstacles and unexpected issues. A good builder is able to work and communicate with all parties involved so that any problems can be solved quickly, efficiently, and with as little effect on your budget as possible.

What does a Home Builder do?
At the most basic level, your home builder helps you design your new home and oversees its construction, from the first shovel of dirt to the final brick in your front walk. But a truly professional home builder will do so much more as well. 

For example, when you decide to build a home, the amount of paperwork you have to file can be daunting. Your REALTOR® and home builder will help you correctly complete and submit all the necessary documents to your local building, planning, and zoning commissions, in a timely manner. In some states, the home builder is also required by local building codes to sign off on all plans before construction begins. 

In addition to designing the exterior appearance of your home, the home builder also works closely with you to select the building materials, finishes, and color schemes. A qualified home builder will be up-to-date on all the newest building materials available and will be able to help you choose the best ones for your particular taste, style and budget.

The Process
After the initial consultation about your project, your home builder will collaborate with you to sketch the plans of your new home. To the layperson, these plans can be extremely complicated and difficult to understand, so don’t be shy about asking questions and making sure you understand everything. Any home builder who is worth his salt will want you to be clear on everything before moving forward. 

Once the construction phase begins, your home builder will serve as project manager, working closely with his team to make sure the work reflects the plans. A good home builder will stay in constant contact with his subcontractors throughout the process and will keep the project running smoothly to ensure that it’s finished on time and within the budget. (5 steps in the construction process)

Building a new home is no simple task. A professional, knowledgeable home builder is an invaluable partner throughout the construction of your new home. Be sure to take your time and do your best to select the right one for you. (The New Construction Process)


If you're interested in new construction, please contact Marsha for a personal consultation. 

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20 Questions to Ask Your Home Builder

by MMRES New Construction Specialists

Building a new home can be a thrilling and highly satisfying experience. However, its also a highly complicated process. Thats why you want to be sure to be working with only the best, most qualified people in the business. (The New Construction Process)

One of the most important pieces in the home-building puzzle is, obviously, the builder. But it can be difficult deciding just which one is the right one for your particular home design.

Thats why weve put together the following 20 questions to help you decide on the best, most reliable builder for your new home:

  1. What sets your firm apart from other home builders?
  2. Do you have a portfolio of similar projects you can share with me?
  3. Can you explain your design/building process, step by step?
  4. What is your process for determining your fees?
  5. Can you give me an estimate of what your foresee your fees will be for this project?
  6. What tools will you utilize to help me better understand the overall scope of my project?
  7. What will the process be as far as making ongoing decisions in the process?
  8. What are your expectations for me during this process?
  9. Will you be working with any sub-contractors?
  10. Have you worked in this area/neighborhood before?
  11. Throughout the duration of my project, who will be my main contact with your company?
  12. Will you make my home project a top priority?
  13. Do you foresee any problems/challenges with my desired design?
  14. Can you give me an approximate timetable for my project?
  15. What is your process for collecting all the information you need from me?
  16. Do you have much experience in sustainable design?
  17. What green technologies work best in my particular region?
  18. Is there anything during the process that might require an additional fee?
  19. Can you provide a list of client references?
  20. What are some things I should be considering before moving forward?


If you're interested in new construction, please contact Marsha for a personal consultation. 

Search Erie and Chautauqua vacant land listings

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Choose the Right Home Builder for YOU

by MMRES New Construction Specialists

So you’ve decided to finally build your dream home. Great! A new construction home has a lot of benefits over buying resale, one of which is the ability to custom-design the home to your own personal style and taste.

But with so many options out there, how do you go about choosing the right builder to partner with on your new custom home? (20 questions to ask a home builder)

What does a home builder do?
The home builder doesn’t just help design your home according to your unique vision, he/she also makes sure the project runs as smoothly as possible and stays on track and on budget. That’s why it’s so important to find someone you have good chemistry with and who can clearly translate your wants and needs. (5 steps in the construction process)

The home builder works as project manager, overseeing subcontractors and making sure to address any problems that arise along the way. He also makes sure all the necessary permits and paperwork are acquired and filed in a proper and timely fashion. (How to work with a home builder)

Where do you find a good home builder?
A good place to start searching for the right home builder is with your local real estate agent. A real estate agent is the home builder’s leading sales rep, helping to get the lots sold and the construction started. (The role of a real estate agent in new construction)

View Marsha Marsh Real Estate Services full list of qualified home builders in Erie County or ask your REALTOR®.

Of course, you can also try tapping into your own personal network. Some of the best builders can be found through word-of-mouth recommendations from your friends, family, or even neighbors or co-workers. Chances are if you find someone who was satisfied working with their home builder, you’ll be satisfied working with them too.

If you do search for lots on your own, make sure to confirm who can build on the land. Some lots have exclusive builders, while other areas allow you to select the builder of your choice.

What should you look for in a home builder?
Every home builder has his own unique personality, construction style, set of skills, and way of doing things. That’s why it’s important to take the time to interview at least two or three candidates before making your decision. This is an excellent way to get a feel for what types of options are available. (Questions to ask when interviewing)

The number one criteria you should look for, in addition to proven experience, is someone who wants to understand your vision and turn it into a reality. The best builders are good listeners. They don’t spend time trying to convince you what you want; rather, they listen to your wants, needs, and concerns, and then come up with a design and plan that’s unique to you.

After you’ve had a chance to interview a home builder, and you’re comfortable that you’ll be able to get along with them throughout the building process, ask to see their portfolio and have them show you other homes they’ve worked on that are similar to the one you have in mind. Once you’re satisfied with their personality and design skills, ask them for some references and be sure to follow up on them. (Tip: If they’re not crazy about you calling their past clients, that’s a big red flag.)

It’s also important to be as honest as possible during the selection process. Make it crystal clear what you expect of the home builder and ask them about anything you don’t completely understand. Doing so can help you avoid any disagreements and discrepancies once the building phase officially begins.

Of course, the selection process is a mutual one, so be ready to answer any questions the home builder may have for you regarding your individual style, your budget, your time frame, etc. The key to a successful owner/builder relationship is transparency. Get it all out on the table before the first shovel hits the dirt. The home builder will help counsel you on matching your custom-build wish list to your budget.

Choosing a good builder can be the difference between an enjoyable building experience and a never-ending nightmare. Just be sure to make it a high priority right from the start and before long the home of your dreams will be a reality.


If you're interested in new construction, please contact Marsha for a personal consultation. 

Search Erie and Chautauqua vacant land listings

View our directory of local home builders

The Role of the Real Estate Agent in New Construction

by MMRES New Construction Specialists

We all know the importance of having a competent and qualified real estate agent on your side when you’re looking to buy an existing home. But is it necessary to have one when you’re planning on building your new dream home? Absolutely.

Although it’s not mandatory that you have a real estate agent when you go the new-construction route, it’s always a smart idea to have someone on your side to represent and protect you throughout the building process.

A Smart Business Decision
Building a new home is a business transaction between you and the home builder. More than likely, they’ve built hundreds of homes before and have more experience with the process. On top of that, if you’re buying in a planned community, you’ll have to deal with the builder’s sales person. And, more than likely, they’re going to suggest you work with their preferred lender.

All of these factors put the ball in the builder’s court, and unless you have someone to represent your interests in the transaction, there’s always a chance you could end up getting taken advantage of.

New construction is a great option. But it’s also a long and complicated process. Your agent is there to guide you. She can help explain the contract to you and point out things an untrained eye might normally miss. Having an agent you can trust isn’t just smart, it’s good business.

Your Personal Advisor
No matter how much you trust the builder’s sales person, you have to remember that he works for the builder. That’s where his loyalty lies.

Your real estate agent, on the other hand, works for you. Their main job is to make sure you’re getting what you want and that things run smoothly and efficiently throughout the building process. A really good agent will give you valuable advice along the way, helping you decide on things like upgrades and whether they’re worth the extra expense or will increase your new home’s resale value, should you ever decide to move.

Your agent will also ensure that things are done properly, such as making sure you hire an independent home inspector at the end to verify that everything was done correctly and up-to-code.

An agent can even recommend the best builder for your particular job and area. Chances are she has worked with dozens of builders before, and therefore knows who you can trust and who you can’t.

Protecting Your Investment
Building a new home isn’t cheap. That’s why you want to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck and that you’re not getting swindled along the way.

For example, your agent may be able to negotiate with the builder to have certain upgrades included in the price of your home. She will also recognize places where you can save a buck or two in the process.

And if things go awry during the project – and they usually do at some point – your agent will be there to help you find the best, most cost-efficient solution, so that you can get back on track and on budget.

Peace of Mind
Choosing to build your dream home is a huge decision and one that you shouldn’t take lightly. Don’t go it alone. Find an experienced real estate agent you can trust, and have the peace of mind knowing that you’ve got someone to guide and look out for you every step of the way. (Choose the right builder for you)


If you're interested in new construction, please contact Marsha for a personal consultation. 

Search Erie and Chautauqua vacant land listings

View our directory of local home builders

The Advantages of Building vs. Buying a Home

by MMRES New Construction Specialists

It’s a question that’s troubled home buyers through the ages: Should we build or buy? Although it is certainly possible to find an older home that matches your particular taste and budget, there are a number of reasons why you should consider choosing new construction over resale.

Energy efficiency is #1. It’s no secret that energy costs have been on the rise in recent years. Having an energy efficient home won’t just keep you more comfortable throughout the year, it will also save you a ton of money on energy costs in the long run.

The energy efficiency of a home can be determined through its Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index. The lower the HERS score, the more energy efficient the home is. According to, the average new home has a HERS score of 100, while the average resale home’s score is 30% higher.

The good thing is home builders are designing some incredibly energy-efficient homes today. They have to. New building codes mandate it. And new energy technology has given us things like programmable and remote-controlled thermostats, low-E windows, high-efficiency furnaces, and more.

Furthermore, lenders are recognizing new, energy-efficient homes as better mortgage investments over older homes. A recent study by the University of North Carolina’s Center for Community Capital and the Institute for Market Transformation found that homes that ranked lower on the HERS Index had lower mortgage default risks.

Another great reason to choose new construction over resale is that it enables you to get exactly what you want in your home. You could literally spend years searching for a home in the right location with all the things you want as far as layout, design, and interior amenities. But when you take the home-building route, it’s all up to you, from the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, to the style of the kitchen cabinets and the type of flooring. Best of all, you get to pick and choose from a selection of modern features and amenities that just aren’t available in older homes. (20 Questions to Ask your Home Builder)

If the seemingly endless number of options makes your head dizzy, don’t worry; many home builders offer stock floor plans and options to make your decisions that much easier. (How to work with a builder)

There are many other reasons, too, for choosing to build rather than buy:

  • Overall costs – Although a resale home may be cheaper up front, with renovations, maintenance, and upgrades, it’s usually more expensive in the long run. (The Rise of New Construction)
  • Safety – Older homes can have charm, but they can also have a lot of hidden problems that threaten the safety of your family. A new home, on the other hand, will have new wiring, new plumbing, and will be up-to-spec with all the latest building codes. (5 Steps in Home Building Construction)
  • Lower homeowner's insurance – New homes have new roofs as well as new plumbing and heating systems. They’re also up-to-date with all the latest building and electrical codes. This means greater savings on your homeowner’s insurance.

As you can see there are so many benefits to building vs. buying. I’d love to help walk you through the process and get you on the path to realizing your dream of a brand-new home. Contact me today at 814.440.8181 or email me at

Search Erie and Chautauqua vacant land listings

View our directory of local home builders

The Rise of New Construction

by MMRES New Construction Specialists

Hear that? Its the sound of hammers striking nails and saws slicing through two-by-fours. Its the sound of new construction. And for the first time in years, its on the rise.

When the housing bubble burst in 2008, the number of new-construction homes plummeted throughout the country. Lenders, who for years had been offering historically low interest rates and practicing lax lending standards, quickly tightened their belts, making it much more difficult to get a new-construction loan.

Combine this with the fact with that the economy in general was in the tank, and would stay that way for many years, and you can see why new-construction homes took a sharp decline.

But thats all changing now.

Wherever you go, you can see new houses popping up from the landscape, spawning new, vibrant communities and letting people realize their dream of owning a brand-new custom home.

The National Association of Home builders (NAHB), is predicting a 25-percent increase in new-home construction in 2014. Lenders who have been wary about granting loans, are once again funding developers. That, combined with a low inventory of resale houses around the country, has sparked a resurgence in new homes just about everywhere you look. (Building vs. Buying)

Experts like David Crowe, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders, say the recovery is here to stay. "We hit a soft spot this fall when interest rates jumped and the government closed down, but mortgage rates still remain very affordable and pent-up demand is helping to boost the housing market. We expect a continued steady, gradual growth in starts and home sales in 2014."

Its not just the strengthening economy thats encouraging people to build. New building codes that require more energy-efficient features are making people realize that a new home can be a smart long-term investment. Buyers might have to pay more up front, but the energy savings will more than make up for it down the road. (How to work with a builder)

Now is certainly the time to consider that dream home youve always wanted. Just be sure you have an experienced, qualified real estate agent (The Role of the Real Estate Agent) in your corner to represent you and guide you throughout the process, so that you can make the best, most educated decisions for you and your family.

If you're interested in new construction, please contact Marsha for a personal consultation. 

Search Erie and Chautauqua vacant land listings

View our directory of local home builders

Source: New Home Construction Hits Highest Pace in 5 Years, The Associated Press (Dec. 18, 2013) 

All About Moving: Moving With Kids

by MMRES Team

Moving, no matter the distance, can be confusing for kids. There are a few easy ways to help them understand the process and ease the transition from one home to another. It can be frightening for a child to see his or her toys being boxed up and loaded onto a big truck. They often wonder if they will ever see their belongings again. Letting kids help with packing and labeling their boxes, even decorating the boxes with stickers and crayons, can give them a sense of control and something to look forward to when the truck delivers the items to the new house. Let them choose a few special toys to keep out as travel toys. Take them to see the new house or show them pictures before the move, so they know what lies ahead.

You may also want to enlist some help with childcare (and/or pet care) for moving day. This can make the whole day easier for everyone, including the kids and pets who will have much more fun playing with friends or grandparents than being confined to the only clear area in the house.

Finally, it’s important to show your appreciate to all the folks who help you out with your move. Snacks, cold drinks, and a simple meal are always appreciated. A small tip for hired movers is a good way to say thank you to a great crew.

Moving can be a daunting task, but a little planning can reduce the stress. If you have lingering questions, you can always contact a Marsha Marsh agent. They are happy to help in any way possible! 

All About Moving: Packing and Unpacking

by MMRES Team

Do it right, do it once!
Create a system. Many families use color coding and labeling systems, detailed inventories with serial numbers, and other organization tactics to ensure the easiest possible unpacking process. Try assigning each room a color or labeling certain boxes as “Unpack First”. Some folks prefer to pack each room as it is, while others choose to group like items. Consider what your plans are for your new home. Will you arrange your family room similarly to your current set-up? Or are you more likely to try out some different décor? Questions such as these can help guide your decision as to whether you pack everything from one room together, or pack all your frames and wall art together, knick-knacks together, etc.

Establish a “Do Not Pack” space to store all the items you will carry with you. This is where you can stash a few toys, cleaning supplies, and valuables to be sure they don’t get tossed in boxes. Additionally, you may want to make a “Do Not Pack” list for yourself and anyone who will help you pack. Believe it or not, some families have opened boxes at their new homes to find toilet plungers and brushes, and even bags of trash!

Packing can be a tedious chore and it is tempting to just toss things in a box. Our expert movers remind us that packing smart can save a lot of time and trouble on the other end. Things like large zip-top bags allow for organization and cleanliness of your belongings. Use the smaller gallon-size bags to hold things like silverware and kitchen utensils so you aren’t running your dishwasher as soon as you unpack your kitchen.

When it comes to unpacking, it’s best to be realistic. Of course we would all love to have the whole house unpacked and put together in a day or two, but chances are that’s not going to happen. Instead, set a goal of unpacking one room at a time, focusing on your most-used rooms first. Before you even open a box, try to plan out the placement of various items. For example, some people find it helpful to use sticky notes in the kitchen to label cabinets and drawers. That way, when the unpacking begins, everything already has a place and you don’t wind up with counters full of pots and pans. You can do the same for shelves in linen closets and even placement of furniture to help the movers.

Essentially, some very basic planning can make your whole packing-unpacking experience smooth and stress-free.

All About Moving: Preparing and Planning Ahead

by MMRES Team

Every move is different. You may have a few weeks to plan, or you may have a few months. Perhaps your employer is covering the cost of your relocation. Are you upsizing or downsizing? These are all things to consider when planning your move.

First things first—do your research! Whether it’s a long distance move or a local one, you certainly don’t want to be scrambling for a truck or moving help at the last minute. Talk to friends and family and use tools like online review sites to choose the moving company that will work best for you. If you’re enlisting the help of friends and their trucks, make sure you ask well in advance and stick to your schedule. If you hire movers, ask about having someone come to your home to determine what size truck you will need. Consider your moving costs. Use a tool such as’s moving cost calculator to establish a general moving budget. This is also a good time to research things like utilities, cable, and internet for your new home. Some companies have moving specials and you might be able to put together a new bundle that saves you some money.

The next step is to take stock of your belongings. We tend to realize just how much stuff we’ve accumulated when it’s time to move. If you’re selling your current home, you’ve probably already begun the de-cluttering process, so you’re off to a great start. But what to do with all that stuff? Yard sales, Craigslist, and consignment shops are great ways to clear out the belongings you no longer use and make a little cash as a bonus. And while you’re eliminating all the stuff you don’t need, try to get a little pre-packing done. Sort through children’s clothing and pack away the items you’re saving for younger siblings. Consolidate and organize like items, because it really is no fun to have a box in each room of your new home with odds and ends hanging out at the bottom. And speaking of odds and ends, clean out that junk drawer now! There really is no point in moving junk from one house to another.

Finally, make a plan and stick to it. Of course, flexibility is crucial, but if you have a plan, you can prepare for your move efficiently and feel confident and ready to go when moving day arrives. Try tackling one or two rooms a week, creating an inventory of your belongings, and setting up child and pet care for the day of the move. 

All About Moving

by MMRES Team

With the school year winding down and warmer weather on the horizon, prime moving season is about to return for another year. And while the prospect of starting fresh in a new home is exciting, the truth is that moving, whether across town or across the country, is stressful. As if the process of buying a new home or finding that perfect rental weren’t intense enough, you now have to get all of your belongings from one home to another. Planning and executing a move can be overwhelming, and children and pets add a whole new dimension to the process, but Marsha Marsh Real Estate Services is ready to give you plenty of advice to help make your move as smooth as possible.

We thought it would be helpful to gather a few moving tips from some of the most experienced movers out there—military families! These folks pick up and move every few years, all over the country and the world, often with very little notice as to where they are actually headed, yet they manage to transition from one house, school, and town to the next over and over again. Many families have developed their own systems and tricks to streamline the process.

We’ll break it down into a few distinct stages of the move:

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Photo of Name - LIC #RB066549 Real Estate
Name - LIC #RB066549
Marsha Marsh Real Estate Services
8840 Peach Street
Erie PA 16509
Fax: 814.866.8631

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