Non-Traditional Attractions in Bucks County

places to visit near Pennsylvania, fun stuff t o do in Pennsylvania
Bucks County, Pennsylvania is spread across 622 square miles and has a population of just over 625,000. What that means for visitors is vast farmlands and beautiful state parks that are the perfect distance from one of the largest cities in the US. With so many traditional family fun activities to enjoy in the city nearby, let’s take a look at some less conventional, but still fun, things to do in PA when you visit Bucks County.

Peddler’s Village

Visit the colonial-style buildings, breathtaking gardens, and unique shopping and dining opportunities that make up the storybook Peddler’s Village. People looking for places to visit near Pennsylvania have been wandering the brick pathways and 12 annual festivals and events for more than 55 years. Shopping includes clothing and gift shops, art galleries, bookstores, local foodie finds, wineries, and so much more.

With plenty of pubs, coffee shops, and snack stops, there’s tons of dining options to keep everyone fueled up all day long. Families will love making time for the Giggleberry Fair, a Bucks County playhouse with something for everyone. Activities include the three-story Giggleberry Mountain, the Grand Carousel, the Game Room, and Giggles Discoveries, a safe area designed exclusively for kids six and under.

Covered Bridge Tour

When it comes to PA attractions, the 12 covered bridges of Bucks County are a must-see. Once called “kissing bridges,” each bridge has a rich history, an architectural story, and a bit of romantic charm to add to the ambiance. Formal tours are available, but there is also a self-guided driving tour that families can take at any time. Make the most of one of the most popular day trips in PA by packing a picnic and dropping in at any time to tour of the covered bridges.

A few of the bridges have been restricted to foot traffic only, but some bridges on the tour can still support vehicle traffic. Along the way, visitors will stop at the Cabin Run Covered Bridge located in Plumstead Township, the Erwinna Covered Bridge on the 528-acre Erwin Farmstead, Knecht’s Covered Bridge that’s build from Hemlock, and many others.

Stone House Driving Tour

For more must-see Bucks County events, pack up the family and take another driving tour. This one winds through Bucks County and stops along the way at the many historic stone houses built in the countryside. Visitors should be aware that most of the stone houses are now private homes, so be sure to be respectful of the homeowners and enjoy from a distance.

A few of the stops on the tour include the home of Revolutionary War General John Lacey, the Penn-Walton Homestead built on land deeded originally in 1743, and Liberty Hall, the original residence built in Quakertown and the hiding place for the Liberty Bell during the Revolutionary War. The driving tour starts in New Hope, a small town with big-city options for eclectic shopping, charming dining, and plenty of cultural attractions. The tour concludes in Doylestown, the county seat of Bucks County, with plenty of one-of-a-kind finds from our nation’s history.

Shady Brook Farm

If you’re looking for outdoor activities for kids, Shady Brook Farm is the place to go. Stop by all year long to enjoy seasonal events or join one of the seasonal wagon-ride farm tours. General admission provides access to a wagon-ride farm tour and the choice of picking your own seasonal fruit or planting a seed if there’s no picking in season. Kids will enjoy the jumping pillows, go-carts, spider web crawl, and the playgrounds.

The entire family will appreciate the Farm Market featuring homegrown fruits and veggies, homemade nut butter and honey, fresh cheeses, plenty of fresh bakery items, and a full-service deli featuring soups, salads, and sandwiches. Then, drop into the Rose Bank Winery or gather together for a cone of Uncle Dave’s Homemade Ice Cream to round out your visit.

Peace Valley Lavender Farm

If you love the aroma of lavender and don’t mind a little farmland fun, you’ll love everything about the Peace Valley Lavender Farm. Drop-in throughout June and July to see (and smell!) the lavender field in bloom. Swing by all year round to explore the unique shop on the farm featuring all things lavender. Start with a whiff of all the bath and body products and sachets, and finish with lavender luxuries for your kitchen, including lavender-infused honey and sugar. Everything in between includes dried floral arrangements, gift baskets, products for the home, and a whole section of gifts all under thirty dollars. And if the kids are getting a little squirrely before you’ve finished shopping, let them play across the way at the Peace Valley Park.

More Farmers Markets

As long as the farmer’s markets are open, there’s always plenty of fun stuff to do in Pennsylvania. The Quakertown Farmers Market features unique antiques and collectibles along with a continually-rotating roster of vendors supplying fresh foods and crafts for the home. The indoor Ferry Market is a hub for local social events, features fresh seasonal produce and healthy prepared foods, and is located on Main Street in New Hope. Rice’s Sale and Country Market is another shopping destination that can’t be missed. With more than 30 acres of indoor and outdoor shopping, more than 400 vendors, and everything from vintage thrifting to beauty consulting and local vegetables, there’s something for everyone.

Family Fun in Bucks County PA

With so much to see and do, plus a few of the more traditional destinations such as the Bucks County Free Library and the Bucks County Children’s Museum, there’s plenty to keep the family busy and happy all year long.

Are you looking to move to the Bucks County area? Contact our team at Bay Management Group to help you find the perfect home for you and your family.


Flood Prevention in Your Rental Property

flood prevention, basement floods, basement drain systemsFlood prevention is an essential part of managing a rental property as damage from flooding can lead to expensive repairs and loss of income. The weather can often be unpredictable, but the path of flooding from natural events can be anticipated as most floods occur in subterranean areas like basements or basement apartments. Here are a few tips to help prevent flooding in your rental property.

Exterior Drain Maintenance

Keeping your exterior drainage systems in excellent working order will go a long way to prevent basement floods and water damage. Advanced drain systems work to move water away from the property and into drainage systems. Start by scheduling regular gutter cleaning for the property to ensure all gutters are clear of debris. Ideally, gutters should be thoroughly cleaned at least twice per year and inspected after any major storm event to ensure they are still angled downward and providing proper drainage.

Next up are the downspouts which should be tightly connected to the gutters and utilize elbows that are pitched away from the property. Downspouts should be secured and anchored to prevent them from separating or breaking during storms. If the ends are not routed to a drainage system, they must be long enough to carry water away from the building to prevent pooling at the foundation.

Lastly, exterior drains should be checked regularly to ensure each is clear of trash and debris. Trim away vegetation to keep a clear path for water and consider scheduling a plumber to snake outdoor drains every few years. Have them remove collected trash or vegetation that could lead to a clog or interference with your sewage system.

Sump Pump Systems

For starters, if your property was built without a sump pump and the basement floods during heavy rain, then it would be wise to have a plumber install a system. A sump pump works as part of a basement drain system whose purpose is to keep the perimeter and the area under a building dry and prevent flooding. In most cases, sump pumps are installed into a special pit that collects water via drains and then pumps that water away from the building. Many flood and drain systems that include a sump pump are tied into exterior pipes to facilitate the movement of water—another reason to make sure your basement flood prevention plan always includes keeping exterior drains clean!

Whether your property has an existing sump pump or you’re considering having one installed, a battery backup is a must. Flood prevention systems are only useful when they are operational, and you don’t want your sump pit to fill up and overflow into the basement in the event of a power outage. A battery backup for sump pumps will kick in if the property loses power—something that’s more likely to happen during the worst of storms.

French Drain Systems

For properties that are precariously placed at the bottom of a hill or other high-risk areas, home flood prevention systems must be a little more robust to make sure water is sufficiently removed. French drains are ideal for single-family or small multi-family homes that need extra protection from flooding. To install these systems, a trench is dug around the perimeter of the property, and a perforated pipe is placed in the trenches to collect water. The trench is filled with gravel to create a porous structure for rainwater to easily flow to the pipe below.

Most basement French drain systems are constructed on the exterior of the building in this fashion, but interior French drain systems can be helpful for basements with recurring water problems. An interior system uses a perforated pipe placed in a channel around the perimeter of the basement floor, similar to an exterior trench. These systems collect water as it enters your basement, making them a reliable method to keep basements dry during heavy rain events. Water is then routed to a collection tank, and a sump pump is used to pump the water away from the home or into exterior drainage systems.

Interior French drain systems can be tricky to retrofit, especially if the basement is finished. It can be difficult to install because interior walls typically need to be removed to put the system in. However, if intruding water is perpetually causing problems for you or your tenants, it might be the best option to secure the area for the future.

Home Flood Prevention Systems

Whether you stick with basic flood prevention products such as gutters and downspouts or your property requires a more advanced flood prevention system to keep the basement dry, every property owner has to do their part to protect both their own and their tenants’ interests. Flooding can cause serious damage to building structures and wipe out personal property, furniture, and fixtures fairly quickly. Instead of dealing with the aftermath, it is much better to heed the old advice about an ounce of prevention.

Do you need help evaluating your property for potential flood threats? Enlist the help of the property management experts at Bay Management Group. Contact our team today to get started.


Upgrades That Don’t Add Much Value to a Rental Property

how much value does a patio add to your homeOne question we frequently get from landlords is what can be done to add value to their rental properties. Last time, we discussed how to upgrade your kitchen to improve the quality and achieve a higher rent. This time, we’ll go over a few items that do not add much value to a rental property and won’t bring much return on your investment. Let’s take a look:

Rooftop Decks

Rooftop decks are usually a fun and cool feature that are likely to be a positive selling point when bringing prospective tenants on a tour of the property. But the real question is: will a rooftop deck add value? Probably not. First, in most cases, these end up only being used occasionally by a handful of tenants while the weather is great but otherwise sit unused. In other words, your tenants might be wowed by the deck on the tour and then never revisit it.

The second­—and more significant—concern is the cost to build and maintain a rooftop deck. While every project is different, the expense can be anywhere between $4,000 and $16,000, and sometimes more. Plus, most roofs are not made to hold the weight of people, furniture, and other decorations and must be engineered to do so before construction can begin. The carpenter will also be required to punch holes in the existing rooftop and siding—both of which will allow water to enter the building if not properly maintained. The remodeling cost versus value is not ideal.

Lastly, having people on the roof of your building can be quite a liability. From safety features preventing anyone from falling to having people climbing stairs to the deck, your liability insurance will be through the roof. A better question may be to ask how much value a new roof adds. In that case, you still won’t be able to charge more in rent, but a well-maintained building will always cost less to operate and repair.

Engineered Hardwood or Bamboo Floors

For property owners wondering about the best flooring for resale value or how to boost the overall value of the rental unit, engineered hardwood and bamboo are not the best choices. The trouble is that engineered hardwood is subject to more warping and other distortions over time, especially when compared to traditional hardwood, vinyl planks, and laminate. Engineered flooring cannot be sanded and refinished like regular hardwood so that it will have a shorter lifespan, and it’s more expensive than laminate and vinyl.

Bamboo seems like a great option because it is affordable, friendly to the environment, and it is far less likely to see the same type of deterioration found in regular hardwood and other flooring options. What makes it a poor choice for rental units is how easily it can be scratched by furniture, dropped items, and animals. In short, your beautiful bamboo floor will not be so beautiful in a very short amount of time.

For the serious investor wondering if hardwood floors increase the value of a home, the answer here is yes! Real, traditional hardwood is always an excellent option, and budget-minded landlords can stick to vinyl planks and laminate.

Alarm Systems & Smart Thermostats

Alarm systems and smart gadgets are always at the top of the list when it comes to home upgrades worth paying for. Much like a rooftop deck, these items are likely to impress tenants that are considering leasing your property. However, they’re probably not going to increase the amount of rent the property can fetch—even if they help tenants save money on their utility bills.

That doesn’t mean that you should avoid alarms and smart devices in your rental property. There are several benefits that make it worth it for you and your tenants. For example, having a reliable security system in outdoor areas, entryways, and parking lots will improve the safety of your property. Plus, these devices can help cut the cost of insuring your building as well.

There may be some cases where an integrated system is appealing enough to a tenant that they are willing to pay more to lease the unit. This would include built-in security, thermostats, water heaters, lights, and other devices. However, it’s unlikely that these updates alone would drive up the price. Instead, they would be considered features of a high-end or luxury unit.

New Windows

You might think that new windows would add value to your rental property as they are often a major selling point for homebuyers. The truth, however, is that most renters are not that interested in these types of details in a home, provided the windows look well-maintained and are not leaky and drafty. You’ll be doing your tenants a favor by keeping their utility bills in check, and new windows will certainly improve the long-term outlook for the building structure by preventing air and water penetration into the home.

In some specific cases, upgraded windows can pay off. For example, if the property is located on a noisy, busy street, double-pane windows can help muffle the noise and keep the unit quiet. If the area has a high level of demand and other rental units nearby are not offering these features, you may be able to get a boost in the price for the unit—although it may take some time to see the return on your investment.

New Home Upgrades Worth Paying For

With these upgrades, you never have complete assurance that you’ll get back even a little of what you’ve spent to implement them. If you’re looking for answers on how to increase home value for appraisal or to net higher rent, it’s better to stick to the primary things that renters are looking for. This includes updated kitchens, bathrooms, flooring, and storage space.

If you need help upgrading your property, reach out to the property management experts. At Bay Management Group, we have a team that can ensure your property is updated appropriately, so it receives the attention it deserves. Contact us today for more information.


Things to Do in Media, Pennsylvania with the Kids This Summer


For people looking for things to do or moving to Pennsylvania with the kids and family, there’s no better place to head than Media, PA. Located between Route 1 and I-476 in Delaware County, Media is a quick 15-minute drive from I-95, and it makes for a great destination to live or to visit if you’re looking to have some family fun. Here are a few things to check out while you’re in town.

Dining Under the Stars

Hosted on Wednesday evenings from May until September, this event brings the community together for food, fun, music, and more. The main street through town is closed to traffic and is transformed into an al fresco dining area complete with live music and more than a dozen participating restaurants. Reservations are accepted, but not required, and children are always welcome.

State Street Blues

If you’re looking for outdoor things to do in Pennsylvania, the State Street Blues in Media offers a host of events in coordination with local restaurants throughout the summer months. From the State Street Blues Stroll, the Media Americana Roots Ramble, and the annual Jazz by Night event, there’s plenty of fun to be found. Tickets may be purchased in advance for each event, or at the door if any remain.

The Media Theatre

Whether you’re hoping for a touch of Broadway, a raucous comedy, or a summer camp for the kids, the Media Theatre is packed with fun family things to do in Pennsylvania. The children’s camps run in two-week sessions throughout the summer, and kids will learn stage singing, acting, and dancing with an eye on plenty of fun. The annual Broadway series kicks off in August with tickets available from the box office. Plus, special events, including concerts and other performers, are announced throughout the year.

Second Saturdays

More than 30 businesses participate in this ongoing event in Media on the second Saturday of every month. From 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m., local musicians, artists, and artisans are hosted by shops, galleries, and restaurants where guests are invited to explore what’s on display. There are also many special events, exhibitions, and community gatherings during Second Saturdays. All of them are family-friendly, making this one of the top ten things to do in Pennsylvania in the summer, and all year long.

MAC Music Series

The Media Arts Council presents a variety of musical performances throughout the summer with something to suit every taste. Many of the events benefit local institutions and ask only for a suggested donation to enter. Past events have featured sessions with songwriters such as Will Paynter, honky-tonk band Lost Northern Tribe, and a benefit concert with a variety of performers to help support the “Instrument Petting Zoo,” where kids can test out instruments that include guitars, keyboards, percussion, and so much more.

The Tyler Arboretum

Featuring more than 650 acres of forest, picnic areas, paths, and more, the Tyler Arboretum is the perfect place for things to do in Pennsylvania in summer. From strolling the pathways to learning about local plants, there’s plenty to keep everyone busy for many visits throughout the season. The arboretum also hosts special events for kids and families, such as the Bugs & Butterflies celebration. It includes an in-depth study of magical monarchs and their fantastic migration and plenty of invertebrates for the non-squeamish to enjoy. Plus, on Fridays throughout the summer, join friends and neighbors at the “beerboretum” featuring drinks from 2SP Brewing, food trucks, and science tables with activities for both kids and adults.

Ridley Creek State Park

Spread out and stretch your legs on more than 2,600 acres of woodlands and meadows. The park is free and open to the public every day from sunrise to sunset for picnics, hiking, walks, and more. There are also several events hosted at the park throughout the summer. The Dog Days of Summer provide an in-depth look at wild canines such as fox, coyotes, and other ancestors of our beloved dogs. The tagging of monarch butterflies is another favorite event. Families are welcome to join in and learn about the history and needs of these beautiful insects and have an opportunity to tag and release monarchs for future study.

Summer Family Fun in Pennsylvania

Media, PA, may seem like a small town, but it offers a big-city range of things for families to do. Whether you’re looking for arts and crafts, food and music, or science and nature, there’s always something to get the community together for a good time.

Are you looking to move to the Media, PA area? Contact our team at Bay Management Group to help you find the perfect home for you and your family.


Kitchen Upgrades that Add Value to Your Rental Property

Kitchen Upgrades that Add Value to Your Rental Property

While looking for a home to lease, renters tend to have a list of requirements that their new home should meet. These include the total number of bedrooms, total square footage, storage options, pet options, and similar checklist items. Once these basic needs are met, the next thing people look at is the kitchen. There’s not much that can be done to a bedroom or living room to enhance its appeal. However, upgraded kitchens will not only get your property leased faster, but will allow you to charge more for rent each month. Whether your investment property’s kitchen is in desperate need of an overhaul or could simply use a couple of upgrades, here is where you’ll find the best return.

Cabinets

In many cases, cabinets can be refaced to provide a complete facelift rather than having to tear out the entire assembly and start over. As long as there is no serious rot, water damage, pest infestations, mold, or other types of fatal damage, consider refacing to save serious cash. On the other hand, cheap particle board and other low-grade materials aren’t usually candidates for refacing and will need to be replaced once they’ve deteriorated.

Whichever route you take, consider replacing or refacing with all-white cabinetry. Not only will this make the kitchen area look larger, cleaner, and more inviting, it’s also the best neutral color for this area. If your kitchen is large enough, consider a built-in or mobile island for added surface area and storage. Most refacing companies can make additions that will fit right in with your existing cabinets.

Countertops

The cost of natural stone has come down over the years, making it more affordable for everyone. One of the best options for a rental property is quartz, created by combining natural minerals with durable resins. Quartz is stain and scratch-resistant and considered to be environmentally friendly as it’s made by utilizing what would otherwise be waste stone. Modern quartz manufacturing has produced more sophisticated patterns, so it’s no longer the “vanilla” choice in stone countertops.

Natural stone such as granite may also be a good choice. However, granite is not quite as durable as quartz. Avoid wood and butcher-block styles, even though they may be trendy at the moment. These materials stain easily and are often mistaken for a cutting board and gouged up. Tile should be avoided as it’s not only outdated but also high-maintenance. Skip the Formica and laminate as well since neither is particularly durable nor pleasing to the eye.

Appliances

Because they are used virtually every day, appliances are certainly a sticking point in the kitchen. Most properties are required to provide a range and a refrigerator, but adding a dishwasher will be a significant bonus as most people expect to find one in the kitchen these days. Microwaves are another optional addition, but even a countertop model will be a draw for new tenants.

Ideally, all appliances should be in matching colors. However, it may be too costly to replace working appliances simply because the colors do not match. In that case, be sure to select matching colors when the appliances are eventually replaced. Spotless, shining stainless finishes were the go-to choice for many years, but other finishes are becoming more common—and more affordable—in kitchens. Black stainless is one of the newest additions to the kitchen palette, along with matte-steel finishes. On the other hand, traditional black appliances are making a comeback in the kitchen. That’s helping to save the budgets of homeowners and investors who seek to create beautiful, functional kitchens that are meant to last.

Flooring

Flooring materials are not typically a major selling point, but an old, outdated floor in disrepair will undoubtedly be a turnoff. In the kitchen, a dirty old floor can make the space feel perpetually dirty—something that’s troublesome where food is prepared! In general, the flooring should flow with the color scheme in the kitchen and be made of water-safe materials that won’t wear or warp from water hitting the floor.

No matter how careful your tenants are, dishwasher failures and leaky sinks can often spell disaster for high-end flooring in the kitchen, especially wood and laminate. If wood floors match your aesthetic, consider ceramic or porcelain tile that is made to look like wood. This will provide the durability and water-resistance we’ve come to expect from these materials.

The Best Return on Your Upgrades

When purchasing and updating an investment property, the goal is always to provide a comfortable place for your tenants to live while also maximizing the income produced by the property. Kitchens will always be the room in the home that will make or break a potential tenant’s opinion of the unit—they will also always be one of the biggest consumers of your upgrade budget. When you choose durable, high-quality materials as you update, you’ll be sure to get a long life from the products and the best return from your efforts.

For help finding the right tenants and managing the renters you already have, talk to the experts at Bay Management Group. We’re broker-owned and locally operated, making us exclusively experienced in serving the needs of investors and tenants throughout the Baltimore, Maryland, and Philadelphia area.


Valley Forge National Park

Valley Forge National Park

Over the winter of 1777 and 1778, the Continental Army serving under General George Washington and several colonial militias camped at Valley Forge while the British occupied Philadelphia. Because of the plateau landscape, Valley Forge was easy to defend, and the troops had an opportunity to train, rest, and recuperate while waiting for winter weather to pass. The camp would grow to house 12,000 soldiers and 400 women and children, and included both free and enslaved people, speakers of many languages, and many religions.

While encamped, Washington inspired the soldiers to continue fighting for our nation’s freedom and conveyed to them his feelings of duty to the people. He was able to convince Congress to reform the supply system and bring relief from supply shortages, disease, and hunger. This change attracted experienced soldiers and officers to their cause and improved hygiene and organization for all. Although Washington and his troops marched on from Valley Forge in June of 1778, what was left behind formed the foundation for the United States Army as it operates today.

Valley Forge National Park in Chester County

What remains of this colonial encampment serves as a reminder of the spirit of freedom and patriotism that our forefathers fought for. Today’s visitors can tour historic structures, study objects from the period, enjoy the archeological finds, and look out over the landscape to see what Washington and his people saw nearly 250 years ago.

Visitors should stop by the visitor center or download the American Revolution handbook, which contains essays, stories, photos, and descriptions of what to find at more than 24 national parks across the nation. As you tour this historic site, read about the people, places, and objects that are preserved to quench the curiosity of patriots and history buffs alike. Here are just a few of the historical stops that shouldn’t be skipped:

  • Washington’s Headquarters. This is where General Washington resided during that fateful winter. The home’s interior is closed to visitors, but guidebooks are available to get a look at what his living quarters looked like so long ago.
  • Muhlenberg Brigade Huts. Nine log cabins along with a reproduction of a regimental bake oven are open to the public, and park rangers and volunteers come in full 18th-century dress to give a peek at life in the camp.
  • Washington Memorial Chapel. Built in 1903, the chapel serves as a tribute to George Washington and his service. Visitors to the park can attend services here or simply enjoy the bell tower, a replica of the Liberty Bell, and explore the Veterans Wall of Honors.
  • Patriots of African Descent Monument. This was built to honor the service and sacrifice of black patriots who participated in the fight for independence. The same independence would not be granted universally to black Americans for nearly 100 years more.
  • National Memorial Arch. Built to honor General Washington and his army, the arch was dedicated in 1917 and stands at the Valley Creek entrance to the park.

Beyond the History—Bring on the Fun!

If history isn’t your thing, Valley Forge National Park offers a wide variety of activities for outdoor enthusiasts. For starters, there are more than 30 miles of paths in the park to get out and get moving. Close to 20 miles of marked hiking trails offer a chance to escape into nature and offer challenges from easy to strenuous.

Bicyclists will enjoy the 21 miles of trails, including the paved Joseph Plumb Martin trail or the Schuylkill River Trail that connects to both Montgomery County and Philadelphia—bicycles are available to rent at the visitor center. Plus, 17 miles of horse-riding trails are also available, and parking for horse trailers can be found at the main visitor center parking lot.

There are more than 200 species of birds who have made the park their home. Bird walks are offered throughout the year so visitors can see different birds in all the seasons and various habitats. Birders of every level—beginner to expert—are encouraged to join the two-hour morning walks.

Plus, there are several picnic areas throughout the park. Guests can pack a lunch or stop by the Encampment Store at the visitor center to grab snacks, coffee, cold drinks, and more. The Chapel Cabin Shop, located behind the Washington Memorial Chapel, offers gifts, souvenirs, toys, books, and homemade baked goods every day!

What’s Nearby?

History enthusiasts can continue to the many historic sites, monuments, and military parks in the area including Gettysburg National Military Park, First State National Monument, and Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site. State and local attractions include the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia and Brandywine Battlefield State Park.

If the great outdoors is what you love, the Schuylkill River Greenway has hiking and biking trails. Plus there are 137 miles of water trails for paddlers along with plenty of destinations for motorboats, water skiing, and other recreational activities on the water.

Who Lives Here?

Did you know that almost a third of Pennsylvania’s population lives in the Schuylkill River Watershed? That’s more than 3.2 million people! In such a densely populated area, you might think it’s difficult to get out and enjoy nature, peace, and quiet. However, between state and federal attractions, there’s always a way to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city and into the water, forest, trails, and everywhere between.

The Schuylkill River Trail extends for almost six miles in Chester County and 18 miles in Montgomery County and connects residents in that area with the vast network of outdoor activities and relaxation. If you’re considering a move to the city, single-family homes and apartments are available for lease in these desirable areas. Investors also love Chester County as properties in the area are ready to bring in substantial profits!

To learn more about finding a rental home in the area or for expert property management for your investment property, contact Bay Management Group today!


Top Spots to See & Things to Do in Ambler, PA

Ambler PA

Ambler, Pennsylvania which was once a 400-acre farm owned by William and George Harmer in the early 1700s, is now a thriving town of nearly 7,000 people. William Harmer is credited with the mill, the first commercial venture in the area built near and powered by the Wissahickon Creek, along with the stone building with diamond-shaped windows currently located at the corners of Butler Pike and Morris Road, which served as his home.

The History of Ambler, PA

The town’s first road, Mt. Pleasant Avenue, was built in 1730. It started at Harmer’s Mill and went to what is now called Bethlehem Pike. In 1739 a road called Butler Pike was created to go through town, also known as the Village of Wissahickon. It slowly grew to include an inn, a tannery, and several mills including flour, timber, paper, and cloth that were all powered by the creek. The mills were in continuous operation until the late 1800s when steam-powered technology rendered them obsolete.

The town continued to grow with the addition of Wissahickon Station on the North Pennsylvania Railroad line, which was the site of a horrific train crash in 1856. A local Quaker, Mary Johnson Ambler, walked two miles to the site while carrying medical supplies to help with rescue efforts. She welcomed injured people into her home and used it as a makeshift hospital. In return for her generosity, the station was renamed Ambler, soon followed by the post office and, in 1888 the town name was formally incorporated as well.

Ambler, PA, was once known as the “asbestos capital of the world,” but after extensive remediation performed from 1973 to 1993 that was supervised and funded by the United States EPA, the site was removed from their list of priorities and attention shifted to a nearby pond and park for remediation. The EPA continues to monitor the areas to ensure safe conditions for town residents. In 2013, the old asbestos factory was successfully converted into a LEED Platinum Certified office building, complete with a grey-water system, geothermal heating and cooling, solar panels, and a reflective roof system.

Art & Culture in Ambler, PA

Ambler, PA is home to a full range of artistic destinations. Initially operating in the 1920s, the Ambler Theater, a Warner Brothers movie theater, was restored as a non-profit community theater showing independent and limited-distribution films. Founded in 1951, the Ambler Symphony Orchestra continues to perform several concerts every year. The Act II Playhouse, founded in 1998, is a professional theatre and has been nominated for 31 Barrymore Awards.

The Ambler post office is also home to a mural painted by Harry Sternberg called The Family, Industry and Architecture. The mural was part of a fine arts project funded by the U.S. Treasury Department to boost American morale following the devastating effects of the Great Depression.

Ambler, Pennsylvania Today

Ambler is home to a variety of people and has a vibrant, walkable downtown area with something for everyone. With destinations including dining, shopping, nightlife, and various entertainment outlets, there’s plenty to do in Ambler. Locals love the weekly Farmer’s Market where farmers and artisans bring fresh, regional products that move with the seasons. From plants to sustainably raised meats and eggs, grab a local brew and enjoy an afternoon with friends and family.

The monthly “First Friday’s” events are held from May through October and include a range of specials, activities, and promotions. The free Kid’s Zone is a place for little ones to enjoy crafts, games, bouncing inflatables, shows, and more. Live music and original art are always on display, and food and drinks are part of the fun. Shop local and support small businesses while enjoying a night on the town with friends and neighbors.

For those who love to stretch their legs in the great outdoors, the Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association maintains a nature reserve and hiking trail that runs to Philadelphia! If that seems like too much of a trek, the Association hosts numerous events throughout the year for guests of all ages. From creek exploration expeditions for the kids to bird watching walks for adults, there are activities for every age and ability. If you’re feeling athletic, try the annual Tex-Mex 5k Race for Open Space that ends with an ice-cold margarita, or volunteer to help with the fundraiser and give back to those who dedicate themselves to preserving natural areas for the community.

Why Choose Ambler, PA?

The locals will tell you that Ambler is an excellent place for everyone. Whether you’re young and getting a fresh start, raising a family of your own, or settling down after a fruitful career, there’s plenty to keep everyone busy. Plus, Ambler is easily accessible by both car and train, thanks to the tracks dating back to the 1800s. And, for anyone looking to live in Montgomery County, you’ll find that Ambler is one of the most affordable locations to rent a home in the county.

Whether you’re looking to rent or buy a place in Ambler, PA, Bay Management Group is here to help. Contact our team of property managers today to get started finding the space for you.


Three Things to Be Aware of When Purchasing Inexpensive Rental Properties in PA

finding cheap rental property

When investing in a rental property in PA, the incentive is often to find something with a very low purchase price to increase the profits from the rental income. In most cases, investors looking at single-family homes at rock-bottom pricing are looking to purchase through a sheriff’s sale, an REO bank-owned house, or a private owner who is very motivated to sell. In other words, these are not properties that have been prepared for sale, and those frequently come with hidden problems. Here’s how to reduce your chances of getting burned when purchasing a rental property.

1. Always Conduct a Thorough Inspection

Start by choosing a certified home inspector, preferably one who comes recommended by someone you trust. Like every other profession, certification matters along with experience and integrity. Aside from a thorough general inspection, you’ll want to hire separate experts to check for these specific problems:

  • Termites. The inspector will need access to all walls, especially any areas that meet a slab foundation. Crawl spaces and basements must be accessible, along with attics and all sinks and drains. The inspector will be looking for current infestations along with conditions that could lead to potential ones, such as plumbing leaks and wood-to-soil contact in the home.
  • HVAC. If the boiler or furnace system is more than ten years old, an inspection from an HVAC company will let you know whether replacement is right around the corner or if the system has life left in it. Many companies provide an inspection as part of a routine tune-up of the equipment, so be sure to mention that this is contemplation of purchase so you’re not paying for unnecessary services on a home you may not buy.
  • Plumbing. Spiteful previous owners who are forced out by the bank may clog drains with rags or other debris. Merely running the water may not be enough to detect any issues that have been forced down the pipes. Have a plumber scope all drains as well as check fixtures, supply lines, sinks, and showers. It’s also critical to inspect shut-off valves, sump pumps, and discharges, along with a video inspection of underground drains and sewer lines.

2. Check for Code Violations

It can be easier than you think to learn about hidden issues within a PA property you are interested in purchasing. Check with the city, township, or other governing bodies to see if there are open violations that have never been cleared up through the city. For example, a pipe that runs from the street to the home could be leaking, and this is an issue that’s impossible for an untrained eye to see and one that’s not detected on many types of plumbing inspections. Other examples include permits that were pulled but never closed, drain blockages, or problems stemming from neighboring properties.

There are many types of code violations that will prevent the home from being sold before they are fixed. For example, any extreme safety violations such as structural failures would typically need to be remedied before closing. On the other hand, many code violations are simply the result of a home aging. For example, GFCI outlets are required in kitchens in most locations, but many kitchens do not have them as they were built or remodeled before this requirement. Most of the time, these code violations only become a priority when the specific area is being worked on and are otherwise fine to leave as-is.

Pay careful attention to the code violations. Decide whether they are severe enough to require fixing before closing or if they’re better used as bargaining chips as you settle on a purchase price for cheap rental property.

3. Talk to the Neighbors

Nosy neighbors can be a hassle most of the time, but they are a tremendous asset for a home you do not intend to live in. Even peaceful neighbors tend to notice when things are happening in the neighborhood and can be a great source of information on a property you are considering. You can learn a lot about the people who used to live in the home, which may give added information on some problems within the home, such as identifying stains from pets or damage resulting from rowdy children.

Neighbors can also provide information about conditions in the neighborhood and whether they may have affected the home in the past. For example, has the area experienced any major or minor flooding? Has a tree fallen on the house requiring extensive repairs? Was illegal activity conducted in the home or neighborhood?

Another thing to consider is a neighbor that may be a little too much of a busybody. If you plan on renting your property to families or people with pets, for example, the last thing you want is to receive constant calls from a neighbor who cannot stand the sound of barking dogs or playing children. Although everyone involved in this hypothetical situation is well within their rights to children or pets and to complain about them, it’s still a hassle that’s better avoided than fought.

Do Your Homework

In many cases, homes that are below the typical price range are usually for sale for a reason. As an investor purchasing a PA rental property, your job is to be the detective and do the work to discover the reason for the property to sell so quickly and if it greatly affected the condition of the home. That way, you can be sure you’re making a sound investment that will pay off for years to come.

If you need help with inspections or finding a property in PA for sale, contact our team at Bay Management Group. We’re the experts in the Philadelphia area and can help you through the entire process.


Minor Maintenance Rental Property Tips that will Save Money

rental maintenance

Rather than waiting for tenants to report every problem, having a proactive approach to your assets will save you money in the long run. Most Philadelphia landlords are aware of the benefits of cleaning, making repairs promptly, and performing proper maintenance on items such as roofs and gutters. However, several less obvious things can be done that offers a great return on your time and expense. Here is a list of rental property maintenance tips that will help you save money over time, so you make the most of your investments.

1. Caulk is Critical

Silicone, latex, and acrylic caulk aren’t the most visible features in a home, but they have a very important job: preventing water from causing damage to areas that are not made to get wet—especially those we can’t see. Corroded or missing caulk will allow water to enter areas behind shower stalls, bathtubs, toilets, and sinks and damage drywall, wood, and other porous structures. Caulk should be replaced every year around these fixtures, and grout should be cleaned around the tile to prevent corrosion. While you’re checking this task off your list, check all the water sources in the unit to make sure there are no leaks and drips that will run up the water bill.

2. Furnace Filters

It is recommended that furnace filters are replaced every month while the appliance is under heavy use, and if it’s only being used occasionally, every three months is standard. If filters and ducts are left dirty, they will begin to fill with debris. Over time, this will cause the HVAC system to work harder, ultimately increasing utility bills. When you leave cleaning the filters to your tenants, you pose the risk that they purchase the incorrect size, type, or product altogether. Instead, buy washable, non-disposable furnace filters that tenants can clean and replace. That way, they don’t have to make a trip to the store or remember any critical details when it comes time to replace them.

3. Toilet Care

Toilets are one of the busiest fixtures in a home, but nobody likes to think too much about them until something goes wrong. Instead, by keeping up with the mechanical parts, you can prevent any running water problems that may lead to high utility bills and long-term damage. All the mechanical parts should be replaced annually as part of the building’s regular maintenance. The installation process is simple and can be performed by a handyman rather than an expensive plumber.

4. Pest Control

Bug infestations are not only gross, but they can also cause damage to your property. Termites are one of the nastiest pests as they actively work behind the scenes to eat away at your investment. In many cases, an infestation may not be noticed until the damage is substantial, and the cost to repair is sky-high. Instead, invest in an inexpensive annual treatment program that will prevent these infestations and keep the structure of your property protected. You’ll want to make sure you use professional services here, as many of the commonly available treatment options are not as effective as professional-grade treatments. Plus, professionals know the correct application techniques to ensure pests stay out without harming your tenants and their pets.

5. Exhaust Vent Cleaning

Whether you have a large building with a central laundry room or individual washers and dryers in each home, maintaining the ventilation system is a must. The buildup of dust and lint in the dryer exhaust system can pose a serious fire hazard and could lead to a critical loss of property and injury to your tenants. Dirty ventilation can cause the system to overheat and the motor and other parts of the dryer to burn out, resulting in repair or replacement. Avoid all of these hassles by having the ventilation system cleaned every year. While you’re tending to this task, it’s a great time to test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in the area to be sure the batteries are fresh, and the devices are working properly.

An Ounce of Prevention…

…is worth a pound of cure. There’s a reason why these old sayings stick around: because there’s plenty of truth in them. Rather than waiting for problems to grow big enough for tenants to report or for your maintenance crew to discover upon inspection, getting ahead will save you in the long run. Not only are you keeping your buildings in top shape, but you’re also saving yourself the expense of hiring emergency crews with expensive rates—especially for late night and weekend repairs.

If keeping track of your maintenance tasks is becoming more than you care to handle, leave it to the property management experts! At Bay Management Group, we’re experienced with managing rental properties in the Philadelphia area, and our expertise lies in making property ownership profitable and pleasurable for the owners. To learn more, contact BMG today.


Best Paint, Flooring, and Cabinet Colors for Rental Properties: Keep it Neutral!

Swatches of color and fabric materials for interior design

Creating a living space that appeals to a broad range of potential tenants can be tricky, especially if interior decorating isn’t your specialty! Many times, investors and landlords are searching for simple color recommendations to use in their properties that will make the space look great while also being simple enough that virtually anyone could move their belongings in and achieve a good match.

Choosing the Right Paint Colors

Bright colors and colors that aren’t considered neutrals tend to appeal only to those who have selected the color, or only fit in with a particular decor scheme. These options are likely to be a turn-off for anyone visiting the rental property in Philadelphia and could severely reduce the number of possible applicants for your space.

Instead, choose neutral colors that tend to lend an even background and make sure to keep the tones light, so undertones and subtle colors don’t get in the way of the neutral effect. While white is often a natural, go-to neutral, it can often make a living space look too sanitized or institutional and doesn’t make any place feel like a home. Instead, look for neutrals that offer a bit of warmth. Some examples include trusty beiges and light browns, trendier grays and greiges, and possibly very pale yellows and gold tones.

It’s also a good idea to use the same color throughout the house. This will keep the flow from room to room even and prevent any rooms from standing out or looking off, so it’s easier for prospective tenants to imagine themselves in the space. As a bonus, using the same color throughout an entire unit is more cost effective as you’ll be able to take advantage of bulk pricing.

Lastly, make sure your painting crew does a good job. No matter how perfectly neutral your paint color is, having drips, patchy areas, crooked lines around the trim, and painted over switches and outlets will cause any otherwise lovely unit to look cheap and uncared for. Hire experienced painters and make your spaces look like they’ve been well-kept.

Carpeting and Flooring

When choosing flooring for your Philadelphia rental property, neutral is again the key to getting the best results. When looking at carpet colors, a common choice is a light beige color, but this can be a mistake. Although beige is a neutral color, the lighter tones are far more likely to show stains and wear and tear. Instead, darker browns and grays are a better choice as they will hide stains, dents, scratches, and marks, so the flooring lasts longer.

Don’t be afraid to use lighter color tile and linoleum flooring. Both are much easier to clean, and they’re also stain resistant, so it’s more appealing to a renter. However, it’s essential to stay away from busy patterns and other distracting details that might not be what potential tenants are looking for. Laminate flooring offers a durable, long-lasting alternative to natural wood, but avoid exotic finishes, high variation patterns, unnatural colors such as whitewashed finishes, or anything else too busy. Instead, stick to classics with a hardwood appearance in blonde or honey tones.

Kitchen Cabinets

Dark, deep colored cabinets may be a trendy style for this season, but it’s not one that will last forever. Honey Oak is another popular choice, but its appearance can end up being associated with generic rental kitchens, and sometimes can feel cheap even when you’ve invested in quality cabinetry. Some tenants may appreciate your efforts, but most people are more concerned with looks.

Instead, when choosing colors for kitchen cabinets, make white your go-to—especially if you’ve avoided white paint throughout the rental unit. In the kitchen, white cabinets help the space look clean, bright, and fresh, all things that people want to see in the area where food is prepared. Also, don’t bother with decorative kitchen elements such as a statement backsplash or fancy lighting fixtures. Most of these things are highly dependent on someone’s taste and will impact the broad appeal of your rental unit.

Need Help from a Property Manager in Philadelphia?

Capturing the attention of multiple sets of eyes is the goal when renovating your rental or turning over your unit after a move-out to prepare for the next tenants. While bold, trendy styles might seem like a great way to get the attention of modern renters, the truth is that non-neutral colors and finishes are more likely to turn people away. Remember, most people are moving in with an existing set of furniture and at least a few decor items, and they want a home where their style can be applied. Your job is to provide the backdrop and let your tenants add personality.

We highly recommend that landlords and investors check with our property managers at Bay Management Group before upgrades are installed and redecoration projects begin. We’re happy to provide simple recommendations that will help lease the property quickly and keep it leased for the long term. Contact our team at BMG today!