Author Archives: Christa Ross

About Christa Ross

I am a Pittsburgh area real estate agent with RE/MAX Select Realty. My office is in Shadyside and I work all around the Pittsburgh area with a focus on the East End of the city, East Suburbs and North. I am a marketing specialist with experience in green and energy efficient home, city homes and community development sales.

Coming Soon: Swissvale Schoolhouse Condos

Coming Late Fall of 2018, the Schoolhouse Condominiums will transform the historic Deniston School into 18 modern condos in Swissvale.

Each unit will retain the vintage details of the circa 1902 building, including decorative moldings, large windows and soaring ceilings, combined with modern granite counters, wood and ceramic floors, stylish lighting and entirely new electrical, insulation, pumbing, heating, air conditioning and mechanical systems.

These 1, 2 and 3 bedroom homes will be priced between $150,000 and $210,000, with up to $50,000 price reductions available for as many as 8 moderate income buyers. Ground floor homes will allow for wheelchair accessibility and level entry with no stairs to climb. Showcase top floor units will feature light filled spaces with 26-foot ceilings, loft bedrooms nestled into the roof gables and multiple bathrooms.

Swissvale’s East End location is within walking distance of Edgewood Towne Centre, Regent Square and Frick Park. Quick and easy commutes to Downtown, Oakland and Bakery Square, combined with off-street parking, bike storage and easy access to public transit give buyers excellent options for transportation to work, school and play.

The Mon Valley Initiative (MVI), a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, in cooperation with Swissvale Economic Development Corporation (SEDCO) has hired LGA Partners to design the new spaces and DRS of Greater Pittsburgh as the general contractor. Construction begins February 2018 with occupancy expected by the end of 2018. Finalized floor plans will be available in Spring 2018. Limited customization options will be available to buyer’s who purchase pre-completion. Allegheny County Economic Development is making up to $50,000 in second mortgage grants available for as many as eight buyers under 80% of the area median income in order to reduce buying costs.

Visit and sign up to be added to our waitlist for more information.


Cold Weather Brings Headaches For Homeowners, Sellers and Buyers

The cold weather this past week has brought a flood, literally, of headaches for homeowners, sellers and buyers around our area. While the temperatures will go up a bit this week it is unlikely that winter is over. Broken pipes, flooding homes, busted furnaces, ice filled gutters are everywhere. Here are a few tips that can help you weather the storm.

House cold? Bills high? Start with an energy audit. Western Pennsylvania is filled with thousands of homes that could use serious energy efficiency upgrades. Built at a time when energy was cheap and building science was weak, these homes are filled with pipes on exterior walls, poor air sealing, lack of insulation and bad ductwork. While it may be tempting to put a call in to an insulator, that may be money wasted without a good plan. A qualified energy auditor analyzes your house with a blower door tests and infrared photos to determine where you are losing heat, or cooling in the summer, and the most cost effective ways to stop it. Sometimes more can be done with a good foam gun than with all the insulation money can buy. Looking for an auditor? Give New Leaf Home Energy a call.

Turn off the water! If you are leaving your home vacant or even leaving for a few days when the temperatures get cold, it is best practice to turn off the water before you walk out. Furnaces can turn off in serious cold, leaving your house in a deep freeze even when you don’t expect it. If a pipe bursts and the water is on the house will keep flooding until it is discovered. If you turn the water off before you leave, even if the pipe freezes and breaks all that can escape is the limited amount of water in that line. You might have a small mess to clean up, but it is better than a full scale disaster.

Warm it up. If you know you have pipes that are prone to freezing, especially those that run on exterior walls or through your unheated garage ceiling, take some precautions ahead of time. Simple things like leaving the cabinet doors open to let heat from the house get closer to the pipes or a small space heater in the garage can keep the water above freezing. Or let your water drip a bit from the faucet to keep water moving so it doesn’t have as much time to freeze. While these are not the best options, they can avert disaster for the short term.

Here are a few more tips from House Logic:

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Tax Tips For Homeowners

Tax time is right around the corner (ugh!) and if you are a homeowner there are some tax benefits you should be taking advantage of. Check out the selection of tax tips put together by the people at HouseLogic to help you though this process. If you are a new homeowner, pull out the HUD or ALTA statement you were given at closing and be sure to use it when preparing your taxes or give it to your accountant.

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New Year, New East End Office for RE/MAX Select Realty

remaxoffice_insideWelcome to 2017 and to our new office, introducing RE/MAX Select Realty’s new East End Office. Previously located in Shadyside, our office is growing and is now located in Pittsburgh’s East Liberty neighborhood, right on Penn Avenue.

We are happy to be in our new digs at 5817 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15206 and excited to have more space, more agents and a bright future in the city. This office will serve the city neighborhoods of East Liberty, Highland Park, Shadyside, Lawrenceville, Friendship, Morningside, Squirrel Hill, Oakland as well as the Northside, Southside and other nearby city areas. Be sure to stop by if you are in the area and be sure to give us a call if you are planning to buy or sell real estate in the city of Pittsburgh.

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Open House September 11

Open House this Sunday, September 11 from noon to 4 p.m.! Newly restored, this amazing 7,000-square-foot home is set on seven acres, complete with fields, trails, a tree house, and rope swing, and was designed to bring the outdoors in.Read More…


Popular Low Down Payment Options

Saving for a down payment can be hard – especially for first-time homebuyers. Contrary to popular belief, there are alternatives to putting less than 20% down on a home. Plenty of home loan options exist with as little as 3% down. This infographic highlights a few key pieces of information to consider when considering loan options with a low down payment.

Low Down Payment Options For Buying A Home

RE/MAX National Housing Report – August

Published on Aug 25, 2016

Unlike the month’s temperatures, July home sales cooled off from June’s highest year-to-date level. In the RE/MAX National Housing Report analysis of 53 U.S. cities, July sales fell in 49 markets by 8.8% from July 2015 and by 13.1% from June. Over the last seven years, the average drop in sales from June to July has been 8.2%. The Median Sales Price dropped slightly from June to $225,000, which is still 4.7% higher than one year ago. At the same time, inventory continued to tighten by dropping 3.0% lower than June and 16.6% lower than a year ago, resulting in a Months Supply of just 3.5. Five metro areas reported an inventory supply of less than two months. Meanwhile, the average Days on Market dropped to 53 which is just one day less than the average in June and four days below last year.

August National Housing Report Infographic

Seller’s Disclosure – Don’t Hide Problems

One of the documents you will be given as a seller is the Seller’s Disclosure. This is a 6 page (in PA) document where you will be asked to fill out listing everything you know about your home.

For many sellers, their inclination is to only present their home in the best light, and while this can be tempting, the seller disclosure should not be looked at as a sales tool, because in reality is is a liability reduction tool. By revealing up-front everything you know about the home, honestly and to the best of your knowledge, you are preventing the six most dreaded words… “I was never told about that”.

These are six words usually uttered by the buyer after their inspection or worse, after their closing, when something has gone wrong in the home. The fact is, homes break, even well built, well maintained homes. But when things breaks many buyers will go running back to the disclosure to see if they were really told about the issue they are now faced with.

Of course there is no such thing as a perfect house, and it is a great idea to get a home ready for sale by sprucing it up, painting it and making repairs. Just be sure that the repairs are being disclosed, and they are not intended to be a band-aid just to get past the sale. Past problems will come back to haunt everyone if they are not correctly addressed, and the worst thing is for a buyer to find out that something was hidden away.

Speaking of which, the buyer will always find out. They will come across the contractor who had previously been at the home or they will bring the conversation up to the neighbor who will recite the entire history of your home.

So when faced with the seller disclosure, consider it as your opportunity to reveal what you know about your home, warts and all, and feel free to add additional details of how you corrected problems or even provide documentation. You will be protecting yourself and helping the buyer make a good decision as they search for the home of their dreams.

Changes Are Coming To Settlement

If you are a buyer that is planning to purchase this summer or a seller that will be closing on a home after August 1st you should be aware that new government regulations will be making changes to the closing process that may effect when you finally close on the home.

The largest changes will be related to the final accounting of costs at closing. When a buyer applies for a loan they will now be given a Loan Estimate detailing all their costs to purchase. They must get this within 3 days of making a loan application, and if there are any of a number of changes during the mortgage process it must be resubmitted to the buyer. The buyer must have 3 days to look this over before any of the next steps towards closing can be taken.

Then no less than 3 business days before closing the lender must issue a Closing Disclosure. This takes the place of the document formally known as a HUD-1 Settlement Statement, and it looks pretty similar. The important point is that the buyer must have it no less than 3 days prior to closing and it can no change substantially from the loan estimate they were given.

This may sound complicated, but here is the thing that buyers and sellers need to know, right now it is common practice for the HUD-1 Settlement Statement to show up just a day or even an hour before closing. The new rules mean that if the lender doesn’t get the Closing Disclosure to the buyer 3 business days before closing there will not be a closing! It doesn’t matter if the truck is packed, the lease is expiring, the kids have to start the first day of school… there will not be a closing. It means that if the closing disclosure shows up on Thursday, the first day to close will be Monday (remember this is business days, Sundays and Holidays don’t count).

While it is good that both buyer and seller have more time to know what their costs and charges are, there will no longer be the last minute, slide in sideways closing that unfortunately seem all too common as last minute appraisal, walkthrough and lender items are checked off the list.

If you apply August 1st your loan will apply under the new rules. And the new rules mean even bigger changes for the banks, lenders and settlement companies that will go unseen to buyers and sellers.

How do you avoid these problems and delayed closings? Ask your agent. Truth is that while we may not say it loudly, we do know what lenders close smoothly and on-time, we know what settlement companies do and don’t have their act together and we do secretly sigh when our buyer’s come up with pre-approval letters from lenders that we know don’t have it together, and settlement companies that aren’t getting ready. Lenders and settlement companies that were just squeaking by under the current rules are going to cause big delays on closings if they aren’t ready for what is coming August 1st.