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Tess Bockes

Zillow Local Expert in:

  • 17110
  • Harrisburg

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Real Estate Professional, Real Estate PA

17 Recent Sales (last 12 months)

Buyer's Agent,
Listing Agent,


  • (8 Contributions,
  • 0 Best Answers,
  • 1 Helpful)

Contributions are sorted newest to oldest.

looking for advice on finishing our basement on a budget but wanting to increase home value as well


Maria,  Hello!  As noted below grade square footage does not count in the total home sq ft.  With that I've seen many beautiful basements that totally contributed to the value of the home without contributing to the total sq ft.  Best advice I can give - add a bathroom & make it a nice one.  If you can do a full bathroom with shower or tub/or both all the better.  Bathrooms definitely add value and the addition of one bumps your home up with buyers.  You mentioned remodeling on a budget - see what you can do to keep your costs down on carpet or other floor covering.  I recently had carpet & vinyl installed in one of my listings:  Empire was about 4K!  Home Depot was around 3, Lowes was the winner coming in just above 2 thousand.  So it definitely pays to shop around.One more note on basement ceilings:  I am assisting a buyer in purchasing a home that has an amazing basement ceiling.  The sellers nailed plywood to the rafters and then covered it with a copper tin (plastic) covering.  They painted exposed pipes copper to match and it looks amazing.Just a couple of ideas for you.

Commission question - realtor commission without a contract


Interesting situation Dick.  Your friend can offer the agent any amount of compensation that seems fair.  She does not have to list the home with the agent.  She can offer to pay a percentage of the sale or a flat fee.  In PA an agent can represent the seller, represent the buyer, represent both - dual agency or act as a transactional agent - essential representing neither party but conducting the settlement process for both.Your friend will benefit from using either an agent to protect her own interests or perhaps an attorney.  Many issues can arise when buying or selling a house.  It is best to at least consult a professional agent.

Where can we find a safe, friendly neiborhood in Harrisburg PA?


Hi!  Great question.  It sounds like you are relatively new to the area.  There are a lot of great properties on the market right now in and around Harrisburg.  I'm sure you can find a great home in a safe area somewhere between Elmerton Ave & Middletown.It is a good idea to check online for homes first - a good realtor can help you with that.  Then take a drive by the homes you are interested in seeing - day & night are good times to do that.  If you go by at rush hour you can check the traffic patterns or look for other factors that might enter into your decision.You can check community reports for home values and school ratings, even crime statistics.  It is still a buyers market, so you are in the driver seat when it comes to negotiating for the right home.The bottom line is that you have to find a home that meets your needs, in your price range and in a neighborhood where you feel comfortable.  I'm very familiar with the Harrisburg area - I live here - and I would love to help you and your fiance find the right home.  I'm also a Army veteran so I understand some of the unique challenges you face as a member of the military.  Thanks for your service by the way!  You can reach me @ or call me 717-379-4479. 

how long before closing on a house?


Hi Staten Island.  It sounds like you do not yet have a contract.  In the agreement of sale a buyer will ask for a settlement date and that becomes a line in the sand.  Not to say that that line doesn't move.  Often it does move when a date change is required due to financing approval or appraisal taking longer than anticipated.  Or there could be home repairs to negotiate after a home inspection.  What should take place is that each time that closing date moves - an extension on the contract needs to be agreed & initialed by all parties.  If a date change is not legally agreed upon then neither party is legally bound to continue the transaction. This is where things often get tricky:  a seller wants to sell and a buyer wants to buy but often emotions get involved making transactions more difficult than necessary.A good agent can navigate through the muddy waters and steer your transaction to a successful closing.Like Daniel said if there is a cash buyer with no contingencies the sale can take place quickly - perhaps in 2 weeks.  A short sale transaction requires not only agreement between buyer and seller but also approval from the seller's mortgage holder - it could take 3, 4 or 5 months.  In a foreclosure situation a buyer and their agent must deal with the mortgage holder or more likely a representative of that mortgage holder adding more time to the transaction.The real answer is - it depends.  This question should be answered by your real estate professional.  So if you're currently in a transaction - ask it.  I'm curious what your answer will be.

How much should a realtor make on commission? Average?


Good question Michelle!  It depends on several issues.When you work with a real estate agent you are hiring that person to do a job for you - essentially you become their boss.If that agent is a buyers agent and you're the buyer you engage that real estate professional to first determine the scope of work - what are your needs.  This means a good discussion of more than how many bedrooms and bathrooms.  Where would you like to be located?  What types of homes appeal to you?  Are there places where you really would not want to live?  Are you willing to do some work on a home aka fixer upper?  Or do you need something absolutely move-in ready?  On the same note what is your time line?  Have you just begun to look?  Or do you need to be in your home in the next 30 days?  Your agent will not be doing financing for you but they had better make sure you understand the financial plan for buying or selling.  If you have a mortage representative you are working with - have they gotten you a preapproval for a mortgage.  When it comes time to look at homes you probably want an agent who lines up just a few potential contenders based on multiple listing searches.  Depending upon your price range the buyers agent may preview the home before she shows it to you.  This way she will be able to point out positives & negatives rather than going in cold & seeing the home for the first time with you.  How long will your home search take?  All of these factors go into the compensation of your buyers agent.Now if you are the homeowner selling - you're going to want a strong seller's agent - not just an agent who will take pictures and put your home into the multi-list.  A good seller's agent will first give you an accurate representation of the market around your home.  What has sold, what is for sale and what has not sold with possible reasons why not.  A good agent will evaluate your home and make suggestions on things that could be repaired, painted, cleaned, staged so that your home shows it's very best appearance for all potential buyers. A good agent will walk you through the whole selling process so that there are few if any surprises down the road.  A good agent will discuss finances with you to be sure selling is the right thing for you to do at this time.  If you are selling you want to actually sell your property for the best possible price and this means buyers have to see it.  Your home needs to be visible not just from the street but on the internet, on this site, or in any way that homes are best marketed in your area.  This could still be print, it could be any variety of creative ideas.  Will the home be vacant?  Will the agent provide staging?  Will you want an open house?  Again - this requires marketing and dollars - paid in advance by your real estate professional.  When the offers start rolling in your going to need a proactive, intelligent agent who can negotiate professionally to steer the offer into a contract.  After that you need an agent who can confidently navigate your contract to a successful closing - and then get paid.You asked how much should a realtor make on commission.  This totally depends upon the broker who is running the company where the agent works.  If we discuss commissions this could be construed as price fixing, which is illegal so instead I will tell you that commission is determined and agreed upon by sellers agents and buyers agents and the people who hire them.  Many times there is a 50/50 split of the total commission with half going to a buyers agency and half going to a sellers agency.  Sometimes a home is bought and sold and the whole commission goes to one real estate agency.  It is very important to note that all companies and all agents may have a different commission split once that 50% of the commission goes to the agency.  Sometimes agents may receive 50% of 50% making the commission even smaller.  Other times a company will have a different agreement with agents where the agent pays a monthly fee and keeps 100% of the 50% of the commission.   Sometimes a property is sold with a flat fee commission - again determined ahead of time. Just as there are many different types of agents there are different types of compensation splits.Who pays the commission?  Well it could be the seller paying the entire commission but it could also be the buyer paying commission or paying a retainer fee that later returns to the buyer when the sale is final.  This is important to determine up front - I like to discuss this early with my clients so that there are no questions.In the end it really comes down to who do you want to hire so that you feel confident that the job will get accomplished.

Selling A Home During the Holidays


My experience is that it is very quiet.  Home buying does not seem to be on the minds of people as they prepare for the holidays.  So I am preparing for January.  January is a great time for a fresh start.  I was having a conversation with another agent on Saturday in the office and we both discovered that we had each purchased a home in January.  Serious buyers come out in the winter.What is your experience?

Termite Damage


Well - it will absolutely come up when you decide to sell.  Smart thinking ahead.  Termite damage can be fixed.  A contract with a pest control company is recommended so that you can call them at the sign of anything that looks like it might be termite related.It sounds like the areas that were accessible were repaired.   If the exterior wall damage can not be accessed it could potentially be a problem in the future.  You said that the repairs fixed most of the problems - why not all?  Was it this access issue or something else.I'm feeling that there are probably other possibilities in town for you.  You could certainly ask for a price reduction but the issue would remain.  Your agent can help you move forward.  If you had a contingency for home inspection & it sounds like you did - this is your way out of the contract.  Good luck!  Great town - I grew up on Inwood Ave.