Meet the Neighbors: Rachael Balascak | Rae Hearts Design

Rachael Balascak

By Jon Miller, Realtor®

Meet Rachael Balascak: Wissahickon Resident, Family Photographer, and Graphic Designer. 

Rachael Balascak is the owner of Rae Hearts Design and a resident of the Wissahickon neighborhood. Rachael and I met up at Taylor’s on Ridge for some coffee and to talk about her work as a family photographer and graphic designer, how to get kids to cooperate at a photo shoot, and her favorite places & things to do in Roxborough & Manayunk.

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What advice do you have for parents when doing a photoshoot?

Rachael’s recommends that parents “Don’t expect every picture to be 100% because your kids may not cooperate right away. The candid pictures are just as good as the posed pictures so let them run around, let them play a little bit.” 

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Solebury Orchards | Apple Picking Near Roxborough & Manayunk

By Jon Miller, Realtor®

If you’re looking for a place to go apple picking this fall then check out Solebury Orchards in New Hope, PA. Solebury Orchards is located about an hour from the neighborhood, about twice as far as Linvilla Orchards, but it’s well-worth the trip.

We’ve been going to Solebury Orchards for our fall apple picking since 2017. It works well for us because we usually meet friends who live in New Jersey and it’s centrally located between us. Plus, you can also spend some time in New Hope and Lambertville while you’re there.

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How to Get Your Home Organized Before Putting it on the Market

 

By Jon Miller, Realtor®

There’s nothing more daunting than not knowing where to start, especially when it comes to big house projects… right before you plan to put your home on the market. Tackling the long to-do list of cleaning the house, purging the items you don’t need, and organizing the ones that you do can seem unmanageable, especially on top of the whole selling your home thing but it doesn’t have to be. 

Take a deep breath (really, do it right now) and think about the end goal of selling your home. Then, grab a pen and paper (or use your phone) and start making a list of every task. The satisfaction that comes with crossing something off your list is like no other, and the more accomplished you feel, the more ready you’ll be to tackle the next item on the list. 

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Behind the Scenes: Photo Shoot

By Jon Miller, Realtor®

Photo shoots for new listings are one of the things about my work that I love. There’s a lot of work that goes into getting a home ready to list and the photo shoot is one of the last things to do before a home goes on the market. It’s a pretty exciting point in the process, it’s kind of like when the curtain is about to go up and the show’s about to start.

This morning I got to the house early, before my photographer, Rachael Balascak, arrived. I always do this because there’s always some last minute items to take care of. In an occupied home that often means moving trash cans from view, getting things off of kitchen counters, straightening blinds, and putting toilet seats down. In this case, the house is vacant but there was still work to be done like moving the handyman’s tools and paint out of the way, moving an exterior hose out of view of the shots, and taking down some curtains that were blocking some natural light from coming through. These are seemingly small things but I don’t want anything in the picture to be distracting.

The photos will be the first impression for just about everyone so they have to be perfect. That means working with a professional photographer, too. My photographer does amazing work, far better than I could ever do with my smartphone. Even if I had the equipment I still couldn’t take great photos. On our typical photo shoot we’ll start with a walk through the house and we’ll talk about any specific shots that we may have in mind. Usually that means a potentially interesting angle or some features of the house that I want to be sure are highlighted. Once she starts taking shots I’ll go along with her and make sure that everything in the shot looks good (ie, cables are hidden, blinds are straight, bedding is flat).

It’s a bit time consuming to hire a photographer and be there during a shoot, but the results are well worth the effort and it’s definitely a fun part of my work.

 

Moving to Philadelphia, PA

Moving to Philadelphia - Center City Skyline

By Jon Miller, Realtor®

If you’re moving to Philadelphia you’ll want some inside information on what it’s like to live here, where to live, and how to make the move. When I first moved to Philadelphia from North Carolina at the end of 2004 I had no idea how to get around the city or where to live. Fortunately, I had a friend who grew up here who was able to help me navigate the area but there was still a lot to learn and figure out. In this article, I’ll guide you through the city and nearby suburbs to help you find out what you need to know about living in Philadelphia.

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Wine Tasting & KenCrest Fundraiser | February 2019

Pinot Grape Clusters

Choosing a bottle of wine for a gift or a night out can be overwhelming. Have you ever walked into a wine store hoping to find that new perfect bottle but then end up choosing the one you always get or one with an interesting label? For most of, this is how we choose wines.

One of the most interesting things about wines is how they can vary based on where and how they’re produced. Trying one grape in a few styles you can see the differences side by side. For the February Wine Tasting & KenCrest Fundraiser we’ll look at some of the things that can be done with the popular Pinot grape for a side by side comparison. After tasting these wines you’ll be able to easily choose a few favorites next time you buy wine.

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How is the Roxborough Manayunk Real Estate Market?

Roxborough ManayunkBy Jon Miller, Realtor®

In January 2019, 38 homes sold in Roxborough and Manayunk. The same number of homes sold in January of 2018. We should expect to see a similar number of homes sold in February. In March, we can expect to see the number of homes sold double which makes February a very good month to put a home on the market since sold homes are an indication of buyer activity within the month or two before those sales are completed.

Home Values Are Up

The median sales price of re-sale homes sold in January 2019 is $238,250 compared to a median sales price of $225,000 in January of 2018, a 6% increase over the same time last year. The number of active listings decreased significantly from 251 active listings in January 2018 to 143 active listings in January 2019. These are indications that we can expect to be in a seller’s market over the next several months if things continue on the same path. Last Spring we saw a moderate seller’s market and the indications are that this coming Spring will be a strong seller’s market.

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5 Amazing Sonoma Wines You Can Buy in Philadelphia

Wine Tasting.Sonoma Wines.011619Most of us choose a wine because we’ve had it before so it’s easy to go back to the same old safe choices. Trying new wines can be risky, especially if you’re giving the wine as a gift, bringing it to a friend’s house, or will be spending a bit more than usual and not sure if you’ll like what you’ll get.

At my January wine tasting at A Tutti Pizza we tasted 5 Sonoma wines that I bought from the local PA Wine and Spirits store. I wanted attendees to have the opportunity to taste some new wines that they could easily pick up here in Philadelphia. We tried a selection of whites and reds so there was something for everyone.

All of these wines can be purchased locally at PA Wine & Spirits stores and all are worth trying. Prices range from about $19 to $25. As a general rule, most wines in this price range are made with a little more care than the less expensive bottles so they are a fairly safe bet but buying any of these will be a sure win.

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Jon Miller, RealtorJon Miller is a Philadelphia Realtor with Compass Real Estate. Jon has been working with home buyers and sellers in Philadelphia and Montgomery County since 2010.