Blog : Keeping it Real

An Interview With a Millennial, First-Time Homebuyer: Tashell Harris

We interviewed a first-time homebuyer, Tashell Harris, to learn how she felt about completing the home buying process from start to finish with the Erica Rawls Team.

On our latest “Keeping it Real: Real Estate and Real Issues” Facebook live show, we sat with one of our first-time homebuyers, Tashell Harris, to learn her perspective of going through the homebuying process.

Tashell is a millennial woman and mother who recently purchased her first home with the help of one of our buyer specialists, Sheena Lansannah.

Our goal at the Erica Rawls Team is to help our clients, like Tashell, become responsible homeowners.

We’re not interested in only selling you a home.

As realtors, we want to properly guide our potential homeowners so they have all the tools necessary to feel confident making this important investment and life-changing decision.

And, for prospective clients, we know it’s best to learn what the process is like when they hear about the realities directly from our clients mouths – especially for first-time homebuyers who feel that it is unattainable.

If you’re considering buying a home in Central Pennsylvania, especially during this competitive market, contact us today and we can help you start the process with a homebuyers consultation.

An Interview With a Millenial, First-Time Homebuyer

Tashell joined our Keeping It Real with the Erica Rawls Team Facebook live show to share her experience about buying her first home as a young adult and working with our team.

We spoke with Tashell and her buyer specialist, Sheena Lansannah, on several topics related to her individual process, and asked her the following questions:

  • “When Did You Know It Was The Right Time to Purchase a Home?”
  • “What Were Some of the Reservations You Had About Being a Potential Homebuyer?”
  • “What Were Some of the Challenges You Faced?”
  • “How Often Did You Have to Write on a Property? Did You Have to Re-Strategize Throughout the Middle of Your Process?”
  • “Do You Mind Sharing Your Strategies?”
  • “How Did You Feel About Possibly Having To Waive Inspections?”
  • “So, What Would You Tell Your Friends Who Are on the Fence About Buying a House?”
  • “What Do You Wish You Knew Before Going In That You Learned Going Through the Process?”

“When Did You Know It Was The Right Time to Purchase a Home?”

It’s normal for people to have some resistance to buying a home, and Tashell said she was no different. Growing up, she said she didn’t know a lot of people that owned their homes. And, for the people that did own their homes, those individuals made it seem like it was a difficult process.

“I knew that I wanted to do it because renting was getting higher and higher,” Tashell said.

She told us how one of her friends went through the homebuying process and explained to her that it wasn’t that bad once they talked about the ins and outs of the process.

“I actually felt like I wasn’t going to be ready until another year or two,” Tashell said.

She talked to Sheena last year and told her she wanted to buy a home within 1 ½ to 2 years. From there, Sheena talked her through the process.

After Sheena sat down with Tashell to go over the details, Tashell realized the process was faster than she expected.

“What Were Some of the Reservations You Had About Being a Potential Homebuyer?”

As her buyer specialist, Sheena worked with Tashell and communicated often, so she was well aware of her reservations about buying a house for the first time.

As a young adult who has never purchased a new home before, Tashell was concerned about:

  • How much house she could afford
  • What a mortgage payment looked like
  • Whether a mortgage was something she could commit to for the duration of the term she signed up for (e.g 30 year-mortgage)
  • What her responsibilities would be as a homeowner (e.g. home maintenance)

The last bullet point about the responsibilities of homeowners is a concern we hear about from many of our first-time homebuyers.

One of the reasons you typically enjoy renting is because you have the ability to call someone else to handle things when they stop working, such as a leaky roof or the plumbing, Sheena explained.

When you’re talking to someone about purchasing a home, the person will usually react by saying, ”What do you mean I have to do all of this by myself?”

Educating Tashell on all aspects of the process and explaining the tools that can help her protect her investment is what eased some of her initial reservations, Sheena said.

It also helped that Tashell came to us prepared with information.

“What Were Some of the Challenges You Faced?”

“In the beginning, my credit,” Tashell said.

Early on in the process, Tashell said she didn’t know where her credit had to be and she was nervous about the items on her credit, like student loans, because she didn’t know how mortgage lenders take those into account.

As her buyer specialist, Sheena worked with Tashell and developed a plan to get her credit moving forward.

In addition to her credit, saving was another challenge, Tashell said. She often had to remind herself she didn’t need certain things and also turned down trips with friends to cut back on unnecessary spending.

Tashell was dedicated to making sure her finances and credit were in order, but it was hard, she explained.

The beginning — building her credit and saving — was the hardest part.

At the Erica Rawls Team, we believe you should do all the hard work in the beginning because shopping is the easiest part of the process.

Now, in this current market, the other hard part is competing.

You can’t compete if you don’t know what you’re working with.

Once Tashell had her credit and savings in place the next challenge she faced as a first-time homebuyer was actually trying to find a house because “the market was crazy,” she said.

“Did You Have to Re-Strategize Throughout the Middle of Your Process?”

“Yes, we did,” Tashell said.

“In the middle, we had to figure out how to lower her seller’s help in order to get her a little bit more leverage when it came to competing offers,” Sheena explained.

Tashell went under contract with her home right before the market went “bananas.”

“Now, finding someone to accept seller’s help — and in your price range — is kind of like few and far in between,” Sheena said, “She definitely had favor in that area when it came to her going under contract.”

“Do You Mind Sharing Your Strategies?”

Tashell’s homeownership journey involved several possible contingencies, such as receiving seller’s assistance, and she was still able to purchase a home in this competitive real estate market in the neighborhood she wanted.

We asked Sheena and Tashell to discuss what they did to re-strategize during the process when faced with challenges.

“We legit ran numbers on every house she sent me,” Sheena said. “And this is why your lender matters, and it’s so important for the realtor to have a good relationship with the lender,” she explained.

We ran numbers for Tashell because she was in a competitive market and needed seller’s help, Sheena explained. We looked at the taxes for the house because the taxes will lower how much seller’s help she would need.

The higher the taxes are for the house the more seller’s assistance a buyer will need to get to the closing table.

“So, we were strategically looking for those houses in a certain tax range to be able to lower [the amount of] her seller’s help needed,” Sheena said.

By focusing on the taxes of the property, we help our buyers, like Tashell, potentially gain more of a competitive advantage because they won’t be required to request assistance from their seller to get to the closing table.

Also, another thing to keep in mind when you’re buying a house is the amount of taxes for the house will affect your monthly payment — by either increasing or decreasing it — and can potentially knock you out of a price range that you may ordinarily qualify for.

If you’re looking to buy or sell a home, The Erica Rawls Team highly recommends you thoroughly vet your realtors and mortgage lenders because those two individuals will truly make a difference in your home buying experience, especially when it comes to understanding how to work with your needs to get you the best possible deal.

Another strategy Sheena and Tashell had to re-evaluate was related to inspections. Not only was Tashell an Federal Housing Administration (FHA) buyer, she also needed seller’s help, and an FHA appraisal/ inspection.

Since Tashell had three potential contingencies against her, we were trying to determine her comfort level with eliminating some of those contingencies, Sheena explained.

“How Did You Feel About Possibly Having To Waive Inspections?”

“I think I was only comfortable because of the way Sheena explained it,” Tashell said.

There were times we would look at a house where another individual waived the inspection and Sheena told me she wouldn’t advise me to do that, Tashell said. Because I’m not the expert I would go off what Sheena explained, and she told me she would not advise me to waive an inspection if she didn’t think I should. It was a house-by-house basis and we were both thoroughly looking at the properties, too. Tashell said.

We’ve shown our fair share of properties as realtors, so, while we’re not experts, we’ll know if there’s a termite tunnel or bees. We know the basics.

Tashell also had FHA financing, and with that type of financing you must have an FHA home inspection as part of the appraisal process so it covers finding any potential hazards and safety issues.

As a homebuyer, you also receive a seller’s property disclosure, which may detail when the roof/HVAC was last repaired/serviced, that will also help with determining what may need to be fixed.

“So, What Would You Tell Your Friends Who Are on the Fence About Buying a House?”

“I would tell them all go for it now. It makes more sense money-wise, especially when you rent in this day and age,” Tashell said.

If you want to do it, Tashell recommends watching your credit early on before you even get into the process. She had one late payment in 2017 that was still affecting her in 2020. If you’re going to look for a home, be careful about credit and spending, she cautioned.

“Go for it. Talk to someone. Sit down and get more details because you only one what you think you know, and you’re not going to know until you sit down with someone,” Tashell said.

How Can You Get More Content About What to Expect as a Homebuyer?

Like Erica Rawls Team on Facebook  or follow @EricaRawlsTeam on Instagram, and tune-in Wednesdays for “Keeping it Real: Real Estate and Real Issues!

Contact the Erica Raawls Team if you’re ready to buy or sell your first home in Central PA!

Keeping It Real: How to Deal With Your Mental Health During a Global Health Pandemic

This blog post covers an in-depth topic of the importance of maintaining your mental health during the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). We spoke with three mental health professionals during two-episodes of our Facebook Live show – Keeping it Real: Real Estate and Real Issues for tips and resources for members of our community.

This is a REAL ISSUE we wanted to discuss with our Central PA community!

In April on our Facebook Live Show “Keeping it Real: Real Estate and Real Issues,” we felt compelled to cover a topic that has closely affected the Central Pennsylvania community as well as countless others across Pennsylvania, the nation and the world.

We hosted a two-part show where Sheena Lansannah, one of our licensed real estate agents, and myself (Erica Rawls), spoke with three mental health professionals to learn tips for families, adults and children on how to maintain their mental health during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic.

For this important topic, we spoke with:

  • Dr. Ericka Pinckney NCC, LPC/ – Associate Clinical Director – Keystone Human Services Central ID and Independent Contractor
  • Candice Coleman, M.A. HS. — Creator of The Green Couch Therapist @thegreencouchtherapist on Instagram & Facebook)
  • Matthew Wallace — Counselor at Youth and Family Alternatives, Inc., @mattymattofficial

Throughout this blog post, we’ll provide a variety of tips and information on how to manage your emotions, feelings of anxiety, children/families, working from home, and other subjects related to your mental health as we navigate the Coronavirus pandemic.

These topics include: (Click the links to jump to each section in the blog post below!)

  • Does It Help To Talk About How We Feel About the Coronavirus and What We’re Going Through?
  • What Can Parents Do To Help Children’s Feelings About Coronavirus?
  • How to Talk About the Coronavirus With Your Children – Coping Strategies & Tips
  • How to Maintain Your Mental Health as a Single Person in Quarantine
  • How to Avoid a Rut During Quarantine
  • How to Maintain Happy Thoughts
  • Resources for Adults & Teens

“Does It Help To Talk About How We Feel About the Coronavirus and What We’re Going Through?” — Yes, Absolutely!

You should absolutely talk about how you feel and it’s important to keep abreast of what’s going on, but you should do so in small doses. Don’t consume it 24/7, according to Candice.

“Yes, it’s definitely good to talk about it … but, you will need to take breaks from it, especially with all the media; constantly seeing it…it can be a trigger. Try as much as possible to take in facts and not hearsay,” Candice said.

And, Matt agrees with Candice. A lot of the anxiety around the Coronavirus is the fear of the unknown and not having all of the information, he explained. We are hearing about the deaths in the news and numbers rising, but we shouldn’t take in bad information.

“So, definitely educate yourself on what’s going on. Talk about it. Validate the experiences of those you’re in quarantine with,” Matt said.

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How to Talk About the Coronavirus With Your Children – Coping Strategies & Tips

You have to acknowledge their feelings—whether they’re upset or frustrated.

As our discussion evolved, Dr. Ericka Pinckney (Dr. Ericka P. from now on), reminded us of the importance of making our conversations about what’s happening developmentally appropriate for our children.

We watch the news and hear the technical terms and names like COVID-19, but, as adults, we need to help our younger ones understand what’s going on — and at their level of understanding.

Children — everyone from infants to college students — are being affected by the pandemic in a dramatic way. Happy moments, like birthdays, high school and college graduations, are now uncertain moments.

As parents, you may wonder if you should even talk about it with them. You have to acknowledge their feelings, whether they’re upset or frustrated, according to Dr. Ericka P.

“And … It’s also important for you to remain calm when explaining it to them so they can take on that sense of calmness in the household and not panic. … because there is a lot to panic about right now, but it’s important to, like we said earlier, to get information and give information to alleviate some of the stress of the unknown,” Matt added.

Everything is changing and this is something that is unprecedented. It’s never happened before, at least not in my lifetime, and especially working as a real estate agent, where we’ve also had to adjust how we conduct our operations during COVID-19.

What Can Parents Do To Help Children’s Feelings About Coronavirus?

  • Take control of what you can control
  • Teach them about the importance of germs & cleaning
  • Talk with your child(ren) about their feelings & the facts on Coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • Maintain a daily/schedule (get up at a regular time, eat breakfast, get dressed, etc)
  • Limit the amount of social media
  • Create games to help them express their feelings (Pinterest boards, emotional charades, vision boards, etc

With the ongoing pandemic, there are many things out of our control right now, and one of the most important things we can do is focus on the things that remain within our control, especially when it comes to our children because they look up to us.

According to Matt, it helps if you try to remain calm about the situation. You can’t control whether you catch the virus, necessarily, but you can control your ability to teach your children about germs and the importance of cleaning. You also can control how well you listen to them and let them express their feelings.

“One thing we have talked about with our 5-year-old [is] this is like a sick day, or a mommy, daddy, and son day – because he doesn’t really understand why he can’t necessarily see his friends,” Sheena said.

While we want to help our children understand what’s going on, it’s vital we take the time to explain what really is happening and provide them with factual information, Candice added. If they ask questions, even to things you don’t know, it’s okay to go and do more research to get the correct information, she said.

As Dr. Ericka P explained, you can think of the changes our children are currently going through like a disruption to our biological clocks right after we come back from summer break or a long vacation. Right now, our daily structure has been totally disrupted, therefore it’s on us, the adults, to recreate that structure, she said.

While there are people who may argue this could be viewed as an extended vacation for the children and may want to allow them to sleep in, we can see some problems that might cause, Dr. Ericka P said.

It’s more beneficial for you to maintain a schedule—like going to bed and getting up at a decent time, brushing your teeth, eating breakfast, etc—even though you can’t leave the home. You want to maintain an environment conducive to learning, according to Dr. Ericka P.

“Should I Consider Taking a Break from Social Media?”

Social media can definitely play a role in how you’re coping with the Coronavirus pandemic while under stay-at-home quarantine orders.

We all need a break sometimes and that requires taking a step back. Social media is just another opportunity for everyone to compare their lives, and people can get into jealous states for different reasons.

For example, there are many people quarantined with their family and/or loved ones, while others may be quarantined solo or in domestic abuse situations.

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How to Maintain Your Mental Health as a Single Person in Quarantine

  • Connect with people via virtual conferencing platforms like Zoom, Skype, etc
  • Attend a virtual club/dance party (Check out DNICE – Celebrity Instagram DJ @DNice)
  • Pick up your phone — make stronger social connections
  • Schedule virtual happy/hours with friends/family
  • Listen to a new podcast

As real estate agents, we still regularly speak with our clients and single people we’re working with—people who are alone while in quarantine. We asked our experts for tips on things they can do to maintain their mental health and avoid loneliness during the stay-at-home orders of the pandemic.

Suggestions our panelists shared focused on how to stay connected with others despite the lack of their physical presence. The tips include:

  • Using Zoom, Skype or another online virtual conferencing software or phone app to talk with others
  • Attending a virtual club/dance party on Instagram or Facebook – There’s a celebrity DJ on Instagram named @DNice you should check out!
  • Calling— instead of texting—to make stronger social connections over the phone
  • Scheduling virtual happy/hours with friends/family using the HouseParty App
  • Listening to podcasts based on your interests

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How to Avoid a Rut During Quarantine: 3 Tips for Adults & Families

  • Do an activity you normally don’t do (Bake/cook together, play games)
  • Create structured days and theme nights (Keep a routine—Get up & dressed!)
  • Don’t book Zoom (work) calls back-to-back (If you can control it)

If you seem to be doing the same thing every day and you feel like you’re in a rut because you’re working from home, or unexpectedly unemployed, and have children and/or pets, Candice recommends sneaking in some form of self-care every day, like a facial or quality time with a significant other.

“Whenever I find myself getting into a rut, you know, that’s a sign that, I, I may be burning out and may need to take a step back, [and] do something for me,” Matt said. “I think at this time, it’s important to get creative.”

Our panelists collectively shared the following tips for families to shake up their routine.

Tip #1 — Do an activity you normally don’t do (bake/cook together, play games)

Since we are now at home, plan an activity that you normally don’t have time to do. Bake your favorite recipes, have a family game night and rotate games, or create scrapbooks from old family photos!

Tip #2 — Create structured days and themed nights: Keep a routine—Get up & dressed!

One way to keep the flow of your household, especially from an educational standpoint, is keeping a routine with structured days and themed nights. Parents should model the routine for children to keep, like getting up, getting dressed, eating breakfast, and doing work (or school work/ an enrichment activity).

Then, you can create themed nights, like dress up, poker, or movie night, or another creative option you can think of since our choices of going outside are limited.

Tip #3 — Don’t book Zoom (work) Calls Back-to-Back (If possible)

If you are in control of scheduling your day while working from home, don’t book your calls back-to-back. Give yourself a break in-between.

Remember your phone still works, so every call doesn’t need to be a Zoom meeting or video conference.

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How to Maintain Happy Thoughts During the Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19)

  • Acknowledge your feelings and realize it’s okay to have them
  • Squeeze a stress ball
  • Do something else for a few seconds to take your mind off the negative thought
  • Focus on the things within your control

Maintaining your mental health during a global health pandemic can be difficult, especially when so many people around you are telling you to think positively, or be creative and start a new business.

However, that is not as easy as it seems for some people, and at times, negative thoughts can take over.

According to Sheena, coming home after leaving our Next Home Realty Office or going out for work-related activities used to be her place of peace, but now, since being at home all the time—home doesn’t feel as peaceful.

As our discussion on mental health evolved, we asked our panelists to discuss ways we can maintain happy thoughts when unpleasant ones come over us. Some suggestions they offered include:

Acknowledging your thoughts and realizing it’s okay to have them
Squeezing a stress ball or another form of a brief, physical release
Doing something else for a few seconds to take your mind off your negative thought
Focusing on the things you can control within your life

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Resources for Adults & Teens To Help With Your Mental Health During The Pandemic

We are blessed to have three mental health professionals join us for an important discussion on how to maintain your mental health during the Coronavirus — or any — global health pandemic during our Keeping it Real: Facebook Live show.

We asked them for information on resources for adults, teens, and children for things to do while staying at home in quarantine during the pandemic.

Check out our list curated by our experts!

Mobile Apps & Podcasts

  • Calm App – For meditation and mindful exercises
  • House Party App – For hosting virtual house parties
  • Brown Ambition (podcast) – Discussing mental health and financial planning
  • Therapy for Black Girls – (podcast) – Discussing all things mental health, personal development, how to make little decisions that allow us to become the best versions of ourselves.

Crisis & Mental Health Hotlines

  • HOME (Crisis Text Line): Text 741741
  • Call NAMI Helpline: 1-800-950-6264 Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m., ET, or by email at
  • Call Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255 or Text VA Responder: 838255: Free and confidential support for Veterans and their families and friends during a crisis

Virtual Crisis Counseling. You can speak with a counselor online.

Virtual Museum Tours & Zoos

Virtual Activities & Things to Do at Home Resources

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4 Strategies to Get Help Advance Your Career In Corporate America as a Black Woman

The Erica Rawls Team is “Keeping it Real” with Kristin Harper, Founder & CEO of Driven to Success LLC

On our Facebook Live show, Keeping It Real: Real Estate and Real Issues, we cover a variety of topics desired by our social media audience.

Since our Facebook audience is largely composed of Black women, for our latest live video, we felt we should provide an in depth conversation to discuss what it’s like working as an Black woman in corporate America.

We sat down, virtually of course, with Kristin Harper, entrepreneur, Founder and CEO of Driven to Succeed LLC to learn valuable strategies that all women, but black women in particular, can apply to help them as they navigate their future corporate or entrepreneurial business careers.

Kristin previously held positions as Marketing Director for the Hershey Company on the Hershey’s KISSES Brand, and as a global vice president of marketing for Cardinal Health.

Black Women in the Workplace – Do the Same Rules Apply?

As a black woman are we held to the same standards as our counterparts in the workplace?”

“No, not as much grace is extended toward us,” according to Kristin.

Some people may say it’s personal or there’s a vendetta/conspiracy to keep black women down. However, it’s important to note that this isn’t necessarily done on purpose or due to negativity, Kristin explained.

Part of it is human nature: when people are similar to you, you gravitate toward them, extend more grace, and think more positively and optimistic about them, she said.

As such, over the years of working in three different Fortune 500 companies and working her way up and through various departments, Kristin has learned several lessons along the way about how to make the most of your work experience to help you move up and achieve your goals.

Read below for Kristin’s top tips for how to advance your career in corporate America, or watch our show.

1. Build Relationships Based on Who You Are as a Person and Not Your Identity

“You are more human than you are anything else,” Kristin said.

We asked Kristin if she could teach a younger version of herself how to prepare for the challenges she had to overcome along the way in her career journey, what would she change.

Kristin shared a story with us instead.

Kristin worked for a company for nearly eight years and was preparing to leave for another position. Before she left, she had a going away party where she received a card from her peers. Instead of reading comments about the contributions she’s made in her position over the years, the majority of the comments she received focused on her changing hair styles.

As black women, we change our hair often as it can be seen as an artistic expression to us; we cut it, wear it curly or straight, short or long, and even bald.

I know I change my hair every season, and I appreciate when others notice as it’s a way to start a conversation.

However, as Kristin shared with us, the comments she received didn’t sit well with her. After eight years, her peers recalled her different hairstyles instead of her contributions, achievements, or anything related to her job performance over the years, she said.

After leaving that position and moving to a new city, Kristin told us she started wearing more conservative hairstyles because she didn’t want the subject of the conversation to be about her hair.

“It was a personal choice. I didn’t want to spend energy talking about [my] hair,” Kristin said.

She didn’t switch up her hairstyles because she was ashamed to be black or talk about her hair. Kristin explained she simply didn’t want it to be the subject of the hallway conversation.

After attending a life-changing self development workshop, she realized, “I am more human than I am Black, woman, or any label or identity you can attach to me.”

We’ve learned from Kristin’s example that it’s okay to make choices about your physical appearance or how you carry yourself so you put the emphasis on who you are and not on solely how you identify yourself when it comes to a professional working environment.

2. Expand Your Network Beyond African Americans

Diversity is key, even within the black community there is a lot of diversity, we are not a monolithic people, Kristin explained.

When you’re involved with black-based organizations, you are in a safe zone, like family, but they can’t be the only people you associate with, especially if your gal is to advance your career.

The world is more than the 15% black population in the United States — and the world is bigger than the United States.

3. At Every Level You Have To Learn Something New

Over the years as Kristin moved up across various marketing departments at the companies she worked with, she discovered that to move up she had to continue to do and learn more.

When you’re an individual contributor, it’s all about being responsible, but as you climb that corporate ladder it’s all about what leadership role you’re in and the broader organization, Kristin explained.

“When you become a leader of people — and yes, there’s a difference between leader and manager — it’s less about what you deliver individually and more about whether you have the right talent on the team. If not, are you getting the right people and helping those who need to shift make that move with dignity? Do you have a clear strategy, a compelling vision? Are you delivering results? Do you have methods to show accountability?” she said.

These are all examples of things Kristin learned at each level.

4. Be Clear About What You Want — “You Are the Architect for Your Career”

You can’t expect your manager, or anyone, to advocate for you if you’re not clear about what it is you’re great at, based on feedback and your own personal assessment, and where you want to go.

“Set your vision and make it clear with your manager who has to be your number one advocate,” Kristin said.

Many people often think of their manager as their enemy. If people get stuck on having an adversarial relationship with their managers, they’ll never get the results they desire, Kristin explained.

“How Do You Approach Asking About Wages Without Coming Off Angry or Ungrateful?”

For people who don’t feel like they’re being compensated what they’re worth, or who feel they deserve a raise in compensation based on their contributions, many have difficulty figuring out how to properly ask for a wage increase.

According to Kristin, it’s a balance of expressing gratitude. It’s not going in there and saying, “This is what I deserve and you better increase it or I’m out!”

You have to know how the system is designed. Oftentimes, there are salary ranges for your position based on levels: median (middle), mean (average), and a high and low range. Knowing these ranges can help you better determine where you currently fall and provide comparison ranges.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook provides statistics on job salaries, projections and much more. You can also talk with job recruiters in your field to get a feel of the current landscape and inquire about salaries based on skill set, industry knowledge, etc.

Asking for a wage increase is beneficial for two reasons:

  1. If you want to go to another organization, in order for the organization to attract you they have to come with a better package than what you currently have.
  2. If you stay with your current organization, you’ll maybe earn 2%-3% more each year, which means loyalty doesn’t always pay.

If you find through research that your salary is not at the end of the scale you think you should be, you can bring the data to your manager to help make your case.

If you apply to other places and receive an offer, you can leverage that in your negotiations.

Be cautious when leveraging another offer to try to gain your wage increase as it may not go in your favor — you should be prepared and willing to walk away!

How to Contact Kristin Harper & Find Her New Book on Career Advice

Book C

In July 2020, Kristin Harper will be releasing her new book “The Heart of a Leader: 52 Emotional Intelligence Insights to Advance Your Career.”

The book is 52 short, powerful and easily digestible bites of advice based on Kristin’s over 30 years of leadership experience.

She covers topics including leadership, personal branding, leading and influencing others, organizational politics and insights she learned early that helped her climb the corporate ladder.

To preorder her book visit,, or to inquire about keynote speaking or executive coaching, contact her at

COVID-19’s Impact on Central PA Real Estate

Keeping It Real About Coronavirus and Its Impact on Central PA’s Real Estate Market

On our latest Keeping it Real With Erica Rawls Team Facebook Live episode, the Erica Rawls Team discussed how we’re practicing social distancing while sharing our predictions about how we think the Coronavirus will impact the Central PA real estate market over the next few months.

We don’t know what the future holds, but at some point we’re going to get back to business, so we want to ensure you’re aware of the changing dynamics of the real estate market at this time.

Micheal Pion, owner of Next Home Capital Realty, joined myself and Sheena Lansannah, to explain what we have been doing to make this new reality a smooth transition for our company, clients and overall Central PA community.

How is the Erica Rawls Team Dealing With Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 reached Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Wolf has implemented a “Stay at Home” mandate and ordered all non-life sustaining businesses to close, which includes real estate companies and services.

We have been following Gov. Wolf’s mandate to practice social distancing and maintain at least six (6) feet away from others, but this, of course, has directly impacted our business operations and ability to interact with clients.

Under Gov. Wolf’s mandate, anyone with a real estate license is not allowed to meet face-to-face with any person. We are unable to meet one-on-one with clients, show houses, attend settlements, or have our physical office open for business.

“We are shut down. We cannot do anything with regards to showing housing — anything real estate services. We’re following those rules, we’re doing what the governor has asked us to do because the health of our community is more important than selling a house. That comes first in anything,” Michael said — and Sheena and I agree.

Our team, which operates independently under our parent company Next Home Capital Realty, follows guidelines set by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors (PAR) — and the latter is following Gov. Wolf’s mandate.

An Unconventional Way of Doing Business—Virtual Consultations

“One of the things I love about the company [Next Home] is when you walk through the doors in Camp Hill everything is open, everybody’s talking and everybody’s saying, you know, ‘Hey what’s going on there?’ and ‘How can I help?’ At the end of the day, I miss that,” Michael said.

As realtors, we respect the safety and concerns of the people we work with and our families.

We are currently servicing our clients in unconventional ways by holding meetings via Zoom, an online video conferencing software, and coordinating virtual home tours with potential buyers and sellers.

We are also speaking with individuals virtually to answer any questions or concerns they have — whether or not they’re currently in the process of buying or selling a home.

This, unfortunately, is our new normal as federal social distancing guidelines have been extended until April 30, and we don’t truly know how long those guidelines will be in place.

We know you have questions and we understand how important it is to connect with our clients and share what we have going on in our lives.

Right now, all of our experiences are a little different, but we’re all going through this together.

Because of this, we believe it’s important to provide guidance on the information we’re seeing about the real estate market to best help our clients who may be feeling unsure in these unprecedented times.

How Will Coronavirus (COVID-19) Impact Buying or Selling a Home in Central PA?

As the day-to-day situation around the COVID-19 outbreak continues to evolve, one thing we noticed is an increasing number of concerns from clients who are selling a home or who have a home that is under contract to close within the next 30 days.

We’re not economic experts, and while we believe we are going to feel an impact, we don’t expect it to be as bad as the 2007-08 housing crisis given the differences in circumstances.

The housing market supply in Central PA won’t change dramatically while we’re taking this pause and staying quarantined at home because we’re all in the same boat operating under the same conditions.

When our day-to-day lives return to normal, the housing market will need to give it a few months until it falls back into a sense of normalcy. However, if we had to take an educated guess, we believe, and hope, the market is going to remain solid once this is over.

Unlike the recession of 2007-08 where the real estate market was a cause of what was happening, the real estate market is currently caught in the crossfire of the Coronavirus pandemic.

We’re only on hold because we are unable to practice not due to an issue within the industry.

“It kinda just came in like a tsunami and hit us and no one was prepared for what it was going to be like,” Sheena said describing our current reality.

What Should Potential Buyers and Sellers Do Right Now Amid the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic?

We’ve spoken to a few clients and heard their concerns about the ongoing pandemic. Some questions we’ve received are:

  • “Should I pull out of my contract?”
  • “Is the value of the house I’m purchasing going to change?”
  • “Will it become a buyer’s market again?”
  • “Will I be able to close on time?”
  • “What happens if the seller doesn’t find suitable housing?”
  • “I have to move to start my new job; can I buy a house sight unseen?”

We don’t have a crystal ball, but if we could tell the future we expect we’re going to have some growing pains.

If you have a job that’s not going to be affected by this, such as a government, teacher, or medical position or one that is deemed an “essential service,” you will most likely be fine.

We’ll have to bridge the gap for the economy and all the people that are out of work and small businesses, who will be affected the most — and that includes small real estate companies like ours.

If and when things get back to normal, the housing market will too. Right now, we don’t see a lot of people rushing to sell their homes amidst the outbreak. We may see demand go down some given the sudden changes in finances for some families due to COVID-19 related layoffs.

If demand goes down, it will benefit those looking to buy a home because they will have less competition for offers.

Are There Any Potential Benefits to the Housing Market?

With essential workers such as government and healthcare/medical employees, we may find that people might need to relocate for a new job.

This can be tricky if someone needs to move to Pennsylvania, or to another state, depending on the restrictions in place to slow the spread of the outbreak.

Another potential benefit is the sheer time spent indoors because of the social distancing guidelines.

People who live near a city like New York, which has been heavily impacted, may consider relocating after the outbreak subdues to get away in case a similar event should occur again.

For those who are quarantined in a house – with or without children or other housemates – they may find their space is too small after spending three to four weeks, or more, in their home.

Some people may even desire to search for a house with more rooms or a backyard so they have more freedom if they’re stuck in this situation again.

If you’re going to be quarantined or stuck somewhere, you want it to be a place that’s comfortable and you enjoy.

What Should I Do If I Rent, Own a Home or Am Selling My Home?

If you can afford to pay your mortgage, we recommend paying it or putting down whatever you can.

We don’t want to lead people by fear because we know each person’s circumstances are different. We all face different factors, and have varying employment statuses.

If you’re unsure based on the information you see going around in new headlines and social media, we recommend going to reliable sources like the CDC and

The federal government has announced a mortgage relief program for anyone that is having financial difficulties with their mortgage within their stimulus package.

For FHA, HUD or any other government related properties , we strongly recommend calling your lender or customer service representative to see which programs they have that can help you.

If you have a conventional loan, you should go to your lender, regardless whether or not you lost your job. You don’t know what is going to happen, and you may be able to pause for 60-90 days, or make interest-only payments on your mortgage.

Before you can’t pay your rent or mortgage, call somebody. Don’t feel bad because we’re all being affected.

For instance, if you just signed on a 30-year loan on a new home last month, some lenders may approve of putting the amount you owe/can’t afford to pay right now on the backend of the loan.

If you’re renting, you also should speak up if you can’t afford to pay your rent.

Landlords cannot evict you during a pandemic.

On the other side of the equation, a landlord’s property may be his or her only source of income, and there is also rent due for that property.

Hypothetically speaking, let’s say there’s a landlord who owns four (4) units and three (3) of his tenants tell him they can’t afford their rent payment.

If we were the landlord, we would call our bank to explain that our tenants can’t pay us, so we can’t pay them.

“Banks aren’t in the business to own properties,” Michael said, which means they may be more willing to work with you toward a solution. We have seen some emails from banks that have said they want to work with people, he explained.

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What Should I Do If I Have Questions? Contact the Erica Rawls Team!

Here at the Erica Rawls Team, we want you to contact us with your questions. Our number one goal is to provide you guidance during this time – regardless if your currently looking to buy or sell your home.

If you need help in any way, we are here. We’re all in this together.

We’re all feeling the effects of it — whether you’re employed or unemployed. We’re all feeling the effects of it. We’re really sensitive to that.

  • You can email us at
  • Send us a direct message on Facebook or Instagram
  • Give us a call at (717) 500-2116

If we don’t have the answers for you directly, we have enough resources and people who can get you the right information.

Contact us today so we can help or to schedule your virtual consultation!