Trends, Testimonials, War Stories & Other Real Estate Related Adventures

Archive for March, 2014

Now is a GREAT Time to Sell!

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Every industry article I’ve read lately has been adamant about our desire to be home owners: The American Dream is still alive and well! Survey after survey has shown first time home-buyers and renters are actively seeking to buy a home over the next 12 months, but there are a few things holding them back. There will always be worry over interest rates, loan programs and our own financial vulnerability, but mostly (and especially in our local market) the lack of affordable inventory and rising home prices are the largest obstacles.

On one hand, we want a shortage of inventory. When demand exceeds supply, prices increase – and increasing prices are a good indication of economic recovery. On the other hand, we want our sons and daughters to be able to buy a home in the same great place we call home! For the housing market to continue its recovery, it is critical that housing is available and affordable to meet the demands of buyers.

The trick is to keep a balance of buyers and sellers in the market – first time buyers ignite the market by buying, allowing the sellers to become buyers of another home – and so on.

Bottom line: Now is GREAT time to sell!! Price your home according to condition & location and you will be impressed by the demand!

Article Provided by:  Maureen Nichols, Associate Broker, Team Member


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Yes, as a matter fact we do!!  Best Mobile App for the MRIS Multiple Listing service area is MRIS Homes powered by Smarter Agent Mobile. With this app, you will have the most up-to-date property information available – the same information available to Realtors.

If you must have this app right away, you can simply text to 87778 this message: MN4381 – or just go to our page titled “Just For Buyers” then click on “Best Local Mobile App,” and type in your number. It takes about 2 seconds to download.

If you want to know the service area MRIS covers – – it is approximately 25,000 Square Miles in Maryland, Virginia, DC, West Virginia, Pennsylvania & Delaware.

We believe this app is the reason brochure boxes on signs are becoming obsolete – why get out of your car and slosh through the snow when you can have all the same information plus color photos with one quick click on your phone or tablet?

Give it a try – we think you’ll like it!

Blog provided by Maureen Nichols, Associate Broker/Team Member

Should you Read Everything you Sign?

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Even if you read every single page of every document you sign during a real estate transaction, will you  understand it? retain it? Bottom line: Should you read everything? Haven’t we been advised – by parents, teachers, lawyers – to “always” read it before we sign it? There are so many documents you are now “required” to sign, it is almost impossible to take this well-meaning advice. 

Throughout a normal residential real estate transaction, a buyer and seller sign approximately 200 pages: +/- depending on the type of transaction and the location of the property. There is the listing contract, the buyer agency contract, the offer – all inclusive of terms, disclosures & the intent of all parties, the offer which becomes a contract plus the addendums throughout indicating additional negotiations & obligations. There is the loan application and lending disclosure process. Then there are all the documents which comprise the actual settlement – many of which are duplicates of documents already signed.

Maryland is such a consumer-protective state, they have buried you in disclosures which are often not-applicable to the property, at times contradictory and confusing, and more designed to protect the parties who prepared the documents than to assist you in making an informed decision.

 I will not be the one to tell you “Oh, you don’t have to read everything you sign!” But I will tell you – experience notwithstanding – a good Realtor, a good Loan Officer, a good Settlement/Title Agent will confidently and quickly paraphrase every paragraph of every page of every document you sign. Trust those that you have chosen to represent you and/or your transaction, as long as after you’ve met with your Realtor,  your Loan Officer, and completed Settlement, you  get up from the table with a concise & absolute understanding of your obligations.


Blog Provided by Maureen Nichols, Associate Broker

7 Steps to Take Before you Buy a Home

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 7 Steps to Take Before You Buy a Home

By doing your homework before you buy, you’ll feel more content about your new home.

1. Decide how much home you can afford

Generally, you can afford a home priced 2 to 3 times your gross income. Remember to consider costs every homeowner must cover: property taxes, insurance, maintenance, utilities, and community association fees, if applicable, as well as costs specific to your family, such as day care if you plan to have children.

2. Develop your home wish list

Be honest about which features you must have and which you’d like to have. Handicap accessibility for an aging parent or special needs child is a must. Granite countertops and stainless steel appliances are in the bonus category. Come up with your top-five must-haves and top-five wants to help you focus your search and make a logical, rather than emotional, choice when home shopping.

3. Select where you want to live

Make a list of your top-five community priorities, such as commute time, schools, and recreational facilities. Ask your REALTOR® to help you identify three to four target neighborhoods based on your priorities.

4. Start saving

Have you saved enough money to qualify for a mortgage and cover your downpayment? Ideally, you should have 20% of the purchase price set aside for a downpayment, but some lenders allow as little as 5% down. A small downpayment preserves your savings for emergencies.

However, the lower your downpayment, the higher the loan amount you’ll need to qualify for, and if you still qualify, the higher your monthly payment. Your downpayment size can also influence your interest rate and the type of loan you can get.

Finally, if your downpayment is less than 20%, you’ll be required to purchase private mortgage insurance. Depending on the size of your loan, PMI can add hundreds to your monthly payment. Check with your state and local government for mortgage and downpayment assistance programs for first-time buyers.

5. Ask about all the costs before you sign

A downpayment is just one homebuying cost. Your REALTOR® can tell you what other costs buyers commonly pay in your area—including home inspections, attorneys’ fees, and transfer fees of 2% to 7% of the home price. Tally up the extras you’ll also want to buy after you move-in, such as window coverings and patio furniture for your new yard.

6. Get your credit in order

A credit report details your borrowing history, including any late payments and bad debts, and typically includes a credit score. Lenders lean heavily on your credit report and credit score in determining whether, how much, and at what interest rate to lend for a home. Most require a minimum credit score of 620 for a home mortgage.

You’re entitled to free copies of your credit reports annually from the major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Order and then pore over them to ensure the information is accurate, and try to correct any errors before you buy. If your credit score isn’t up to snuff, the easiest ways to improve it are to pay every bill on time and pay down high credit card debt.

7. Get prequalified

Meet with a lender to get a prequalification letter that says how much house you’re qualified to buy. Start gathering the paperwork your lender says it needs. Most want to see W-2 forms verifying your employment and income, copies of pay stubs, and two to four months of banking statements.

If you’re self-employed, you’ll need your current profit and loss statement, a current balance sheet, and personal and business income tax returns for the previous two years.

Consider your financing options. The longer the loan, the smaller your monthly payment. Fixed-rate mortgages offer payment certainty; an adjustable-rate mortgage offers a lower monthly payment. However, an adjustable-rate mortgage may adjust dramatically. Be sure to calculate your affordability at both the lowest and highest possible ARM rate.


Blog Provided by: By: G. M. Filisko,