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

TEN Facts about Real Estate & Maryland’s Economy

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According to a study titled “The Role of Real Estate in Maryland’s Economy 2013” commissioned by the Maryland Association of REALTORS® (MAR), ten FACTS indicate the importance of real estate transactions to Maryland:

1)     Maryland’s real estate industry employed 234,500 in 2012, about 9% of the state total.

2)     Real estate contributed $45.2 billion of Maryland’s Gross State Product in 2011.

3)     Maryland ranks 11th in terms of Real Estate Tax Burden, about 44% above the national median.

4)     Maryland’s per capita Real Estate Tax Burden was $3,152 in 2011, 27% above US median of $2,311.

5)     Local real estate taxes generated $7.3 billion, 60% of local government revenue in FY2013, an increase from the 49% share in FY2010.

6)     Direct and secondary employment in real estate supports 464,000 jobs in Maryland.

7)     Real estate related jobs generates more than $15 billion in wages/salary, more than $66,000 per worker.

8)     With multiplier effects, Maryland’s real estate industry contributes over $71 billion to the economy.

9)     Real estate contributes $887 million to the state of Maryland in personal property taxes.

10)  Maryland ranks 10th among all states for its reliance on Property Taxes as a revenue source.

What is Buyer’s Remorse?

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The “holidays” are a magical time for many people – you probably won’t be surprised to know that many people make a resolution to move – to sell their current home and buy a bigger one, to buy their first home, to retire to a smaller home during the “Holiday Season” and the start of the new year. 

When the excitement of shopping for a house turns into the reality of committing to buy – well, that’s when you start second-guessing your decision and begin to have a fear of ‘What-if’..  It’s completely natural to do this, completely normal to have, what we term, a case of “Buyer’s Remorse.”

The buyer who suffers from remorse fears they may have made a bad financial decision. Even after they’ve analyzed the numbers, the 2nd-guessing begins, they now worry they may be paying too much or that they are being taken advantage of. They may worry that down the road something negative is going to happen: The What-If factor.

Buying real estate, especially the home where we plan to live, is not only a financial, business-like process, but an emotional one as well. A huge decision, so many factors to take into account – pricing, neighborhood, schools; so many speculative answers – no one can absolutely predict the future, right? Take schools for instance – you can buy a home in your preferred school district and 18 months later the county can re-district!

Fortunately, buying real estate is a step-by-step process. Many of your questions are answered before you submit an offer (you’ve checked out the area master plan, the schools, crime, commute, comparables.) The rest are answered as you go through the process – step 1, the offer & acceptance; step 2, the inspections, step 3, the appraisal, step 4, the title…. each satisfactorily completed step is designed to alleviate your stress and eliminate your remorse. By the time you reach the settlement table, excitement should be the emotion leading you into your future!

Provided by Maureen Nichols


10 Things Today’s Buyers Look for in a Home

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While David Letterman’s Top 10 lists generally culminate in a No. 1 ranking, the following list includes in no particular order 10 things that are important to buyers today, especially Millennials who represent a significant buyer niche in today’s market.

  1. Quality of the neighborhoodThe National Association of Realtor’s 2012 Profile of Buyers and Sellers revealed that neighborhoods are really important to buyers, but that neighborhood choice varies by household composition.  
  2. Convenience to job – Commuting is a necessary evil, but homes that are close to work enhance work-life balance, a growing priority for many Americans, especially Millennials. 
  3. Overall affordability of homes – With job markets tight and retirement funds depleted or eroded thanks to the great Recession, it has never been more important to keep housing related costs as low as possible, ideally no more than one third of your pre-tax income.
  4. Quality of schools – A recent survey by revealed that nearly 45 percent of today’s buyers are willing to pay a premium for quality schools
  5. Homes suited for the next 15 years – Just five years ago, buyers were looking to stay in their home about 10 years.  Today, buyers expect to stay closer to 15, so it’s important to find a home that can support lifestyles as they evolve through that time period.
  6. A mortgage – In today’s tight credit environment, getting a mortgage can be a challenge. Buyers should be willing to consider homes below what they may quality for in order to bump up the loan to value ratio.
  7. Energy efficiency – The National Association of Homebuilders surveyed buyers to see what was most important to them in new home construction and energy efficiency topped the list.  Four of the top most wanted features involve saving energy: 94 percent of home buyers want energy-star rated appliances, 91 percent want an energy-star rating for the whole home, 89 percent want energy-star rated windows, and 88 percent want ceiling fans.
  8. Open floor plans – Spaces that are great for entertaining mean quality time with friends and family, something especially important to Gen Y.
  9. High ceilings – Taller ceilings are not only aesthetically pleasing in that they impart a grandness to the home, they also promote greater air circulation and more natural light than lower ceilings.
  10. Technology – Can you run your home from a cell phone? Then market to a Millennial, who prizes a homes’ technological amenities prized over curb appeal.


by (August 2013)

RE/MAX Housing Blog – A Home is More than Walls & Plaster

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After a month of negotiations, last-minute closing hurdles, a roof replacement in the dead of winter and other adventures, we finally closed the sale on our old home – and our new one – all in time for the holidays.

At the closing table for our old home, we sat across from a family of first-time homebuyers who were clearly excited to make new memories in a new home. We exchanged friendly banter. We told them about that pesky humidifier control switch in the basement and shared insights about the neighborhood. All the while, though, my thoughts were on our new dream home.

When our lender handed us a stack of notecards with a picture of our new home on the front, with its beautiful brick exterior and the plentiful, cheery windows, I felt a sense of pride mixed with anxiety. We really did it!

Almost two weeks after getting our new keys, boxes are still pleading with us to unpack them, and smiling faces stare at me from photo frames that need to be put on display. Our to-do list is longer than we expected, but we’re slowly making our way through it and checking off items. 

In the moment I was unpacking the gleaming crystal stemware and trinkets that will go into my late mother’s china cabinet, I became overwhelmed as I thought back to my childhood. My mom was a single mother of two who worked two, sometimes three, jobs to provide the roof over our heads, the food on the table and as normal an upbringing as possible after my father passed away.

She poured a lot of time and effort into making our home comfortable. I never understood her obsession with perfecting the house; after all, it was just walls and plaster, right? But as I stood in my new formal dining room and handled those precious memories encased in bubble wrap that are now mine to treasure, it dawned on me that the home my mother created was a labor of love. And because she did that, it was a safe place. A place where I felt I belonged.

I look around my new home and I don’t think about furniture or the electronics or the square footage. I look around and see memories waiting to be created.

I realize now what I failed to appreciate when I was younger: Home is the place where a family plants its roots and grows before life takes us all in different directions. Because no matter where you go or what you do in life, memories and feelings of your home stay with you forever.

Blog provided by:  By Deborah Kearns, RE/MAX Senior Editor, Corporate Communications


How Much Should I Offer on This Sweet Deal?

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Oh my, “it” just came on the market! The one you’ve been waiting a year for. And what a sweet sweet deal it is! It probably  needs work, because it’s 10K below everything else that has sold in the same area within the last year.  You look at the pictures – which don’t indicate a fixer-upper, but a house that has been lovingly maintained with more updates than you expected. Sounds too good to be true! Your agent tells you to move fast, get in to look, then make sure you have time to go right to the office to write up an offer if you like what you see.

But what to offer? At this point, having waited a year for this house, having watched the others go to settlement for 10K more than this – those that you didn’t see fast enough, took too long to think about or offered less than another buyer…. you are inclined, anxious even, to give them their asking price.

LISTEN TO YOUR AGENT!! If you don’t offer at least $5,050 over the asking price, someone else will get this one, too. Pricing it too low is a strategy. Price it low to sell it quick for the highest price possible. Price it too low in a neighborhood with a good track record, and that seller will obtain multiple offers and every offer will be over asking price.

Offer as high as possible with the sweetest terms you can manage!

Property Over Priced? How Much Should I Offer?

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It’s been on the market forever! They started $50K higher than their current asking price and it’s still about $20K over the competition. BUT you want it! You love the location. You love the yard! It has all the basic amenities on your wish list. If only the seller would be realistic with their price!

What should you offer? If you come in “insultingly” low, should you offer an explanation, send the seller comparables? Or should you just gush on and on about the house and how much you want it, as long as you can get it for a good price? LET YOUR AGENT GUIDE YOU!

Where most every transaction is basically the same, the personalities involved are varied. Your buyer’s agent will have an introductory and non-confrontational conversation with the seller’s agent in which they will ferret out the seller’s motivation and an explanation for the pricing. Chances are, the seller’s agent has already shown their seller the comparables – so we won’t insult the seller AND the agent by tacking these on to our low offer. And no need to gush – if you’ve taken the time to review and sign the 50 pages which make up an offer, to provide a pre-approval for your loan, you are already telling the seller you want the property, you’re serious.

In this situation, you put your best foot forward – make your low offer, but make the rest of the deal as sweet as possible, a deal the seller can’t refuse. For example, take it “As Is.”  [stay tuned for a blog on “As Is.”] Don’t obligate the seller to anything other than the price. If you need help with closing costs, you need help, just know that whatever amount you ask, reduces the sellers’ bottom line. Find out when the seller wants to settle, or where the seller wants to settle. In other words, your agent will relay to the seller’s agent that you are the most cooperative, easy-going buyer ever, and if the seller will only consider their offer price (please, please,) it’ll be smooth sailing to the settlement table.

The seller will counter your offer.  Unless desperate – which hasn’t been indicated by the pricing – the seller will take your offer and counter it, no matter what, to squeeze out of you every dollar possible. You can write in big bold red letters you’ve given the seller your best offer, your only offer, take it or leave it, and 99.9% of the time the seller will counter. Nothing to lose, everything to gain, right?

 Good luck in your negotiations!! 

How Much Should I Offer?

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You’ve finally found “the” one! It’s priced within your budget, it’s priced competitively. But an offer of “asking” price just goes against the grain, doesn’t it? Let your agent guide you and DO NOT be afraid or too stubborn to offer the asking price!  Don’t feel like you’re not getting the “best” deal available if you do so. Why?  Because the upfront negotiated sales price is, quite simply, step one.

If you are willing to pay what the seller is asking, then shouldn’t the seller be willing to accommodate you on the condition/inspection issues, appraisal issue, a conflict with the settlement date & time, help with a little closing costs?   At some point, there will be something you need, be it a personal request or a lender requirement, which will call for seller cooperation. By offering the asking price, you’re paying for cooperation up front.

Go ahead and offer less. The seller may take it! But be prepared for a battle when you want them to fix something found on the home inspection (their thoughts: buyer should use the discount to pay for problems!) Be prepared for a battle when you ask to change the settlement date by a day because you have an important work meeting you can’t miss!

The contract is step one. Then come the inspections, the loan and appraisal processing, the title work, the final walk through, then the actual settlement date. It is generally a 30-45 day process, a time the buyer and seller of a property are “involved.” Make it a pleasurable experience rather than a contentious one: Let Your Agent Guide You!


stay tuned for more “How Much Should I Offer” scenarios…..

The Best Time to List Your Home Is….

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Spring? Is it? When it comes to selling your home, every season offers pros and cons.
If you list your home in January, you beat out the Spring Competition and take advantage of all the Buyers who have “resolved” to buy a home for New Year’s.  Don’t worry about looking dreary – all homes look dreary in January!
Go ahead, list in March or April, once the trees bud and the flowers are blooming – but only if you outshine your competition and price your home competitively. If you’re running behind getting ready, once the market heats up and homes start contracting, you can jump in to help “make” the market even better (for you!) in late April & May.
Traditionally, June, July & August are somewhat “slow” months – but if the interest rates are attractive & your home is priced to sell, it won’t take you too long to sell and you’ll have the added benefit of any Appreciation the Spring market set in motion.
September, October & November – a beautiful time of year to market your home. It’s not too hot or too cold, the trees are in color, and the competition is definitely dwindling by now…. added to this is the approach of the holidays, and homes that haven’t sold are considering coming off the market to wait until the early spring to re-list. What does that mean to you? Little to no competition. Is it a hassle to show your house around the holidays? Well, yes. But lots of buyers have more free time from their jobs over the holidays to house-shop, So take advantage of the Thanksgiving to New Year’s timing to sell your home – if you’re ready, don’t wait!
Lots of other factors go into the “timing” of listing your home for sale. If you have a really nice pool, for instance, or gardens – you want to promote them at the right time if at all possible. But for the most part, we are fortunate to have a steady year-round market in Maryland!

Seasonal Maintenance – Get Ready for Winter!

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Key maintenance tasks to perform to prepare your home for the winter months ahead.

Clean your gutters. Leaving debris in your gutters is an invitation for trouble. Not only can it freeze and damage the gutters themselves, but it also can force freezing water up under your shingles and damage the roof. Gladstone says that many homes in the Northeast now have covered gutter systems, which fools many homeowners into thinking gutter cleaning is unnecessary. “Gutter covers keep leaves out,” he says, “but not fine organic material or grit from the roof.” It’s important to remove the covers and clean just as you would regular gutters.

Clean and put away lawn and garden equipment. Do a visual inspection of the yard to identify anything lying around — garden tools, hoses and nozzles, patio furniture and accessories — that might be damaged by snow and ice and should be brought in for the winter.

Run your lawn mower until the gas tank is empty; if you leave gas in the tank over the winter, it can degrade and lose some of its combustion ability. Worse, gas can react with the air in the tank and oxidize, forming deposits that affect the machine’s performance; worse still, moisture can condense inside the tank and cause rust that blocks the fuel lines.

If you know you’re going to leave gas in the tank over the winter, add a stabilizer to the last gallon you put in (mix it in the gas can, not the mower tank, so that you get the mixing ratio correct).

Disconnect hoses and winterize lawn irrigation systems. Leaving water in any exterior hoses or pipes can cause them to freeze and burst. If your exterior faucets aren’t self-draining, be sure to turn off the water manually at the shutoff valve inside the house so water doesn’t stand in the wall pipes.

If you have a lawn irrigation system, it’s important to make sure all the water has drained from the system before the first freeze. Depending on the type of system you’ve installed, this may require the assistance of a professional. A pro charges $50 to $150 to winterize an irrigation system. 

Schedule a furnace tune-up. Follow your furnace professional as he works, and ask questions about what he’s doing, says Gladstone. The technician should be working his way through a checklist of items such as inspecting filters, checking the chimney exhaust, and examining the blower and fuel connections. Expect to pay $50 to $100 for a furnace tune-up.

Protect your air conditioning unit. If your outdoor air conditioning unit is located under trees or under the drip line of the house where icicles and snow may fall, give it a little protection by placing a sheet of plywood over the top and draping a dropcloth over it. However, don’t create a fully enclosed space, as that can trap moisture and offer winter protection for rodents.

Close your storm windows. It’s a simple step, but an easy one to forget. Make sure the windows are shut properly so that the outer pane is up and the inner pane is down; this keeps rain and other forms of precipitation out.

Insulate pull-down staircases for attics. The openings that accommodate pull-down staircases can cause significant heat loss during winter. You can purchase an insulated cover for the opening, or for about $30 you can make a foam box yourself with duct tape, weatherstripping, and a piece of 2-inch-thick polystyrene foam; 2-inch foam has an insulating value of about R-10. “This simple step will pay for itself many times over,” Gladstone says. 

Spending a weekend or two on maintenance can prevent costly repairs and alert you to developing problems. Visit the links listed below for more detailed information on completing tasks or repairs yourself.

Article Source:  – Read more:


12 Reasons to Use a REALTOR®

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All real estate licensees are not the same. Only real estate licensees who are members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (NAR) are properly called REALTORS®. They proudly display the REALTOR “®” logo on the business card or other marketing and sales literature. REALTORS® are committed to treat all parties to a transaction honestly. REALTORS® subscribe to a strict code of ethics and are expected to maintain a higher level of knowledge of the process of buying and selling real estate. An independent survey reports that 84% of home buyers would use the same REALTOR® again!

Real estate transactions involve one of the biggest financial investments most people experience in their lifetime. Transactions today usually exceed $100,000. If you had a $100,000 income tax problem, would you attempt to deal with it without the help of a CPA? If you had a $100,000 legal question, would you deal with it without the help of an attorney? Considering the small upside cost and the large downside risk, it would be foolish to consider a deal in real estate without the professional assistance of a REALTOR®. But if you’re still not convinced of the value of a REALTOR®, here are a dozen more reasons to use one:

1. Your REALTOR® can help you determine your buying power – that is, your financial reserves plus your borrowing capacity. If you give a REALTOR® some basic information about your available savings, income and current debt, he or she can refer you to lenders best qualified to help you.

2. Your REALTOR® has many resources to assist you in your home search. Sometimes the property you are seeking is available but not actively advertised in the market, and it will take some investigation by your agent to find all available properties.

3. Your REALTOR® can assist you in the selection process by providing objective information about each property. Agents who are REALTORS® have access to a variety of informational resources. REALTORS® can provide local community information on utilities, zoning, schools, etc. There are two things you’ll want to know. First, will the property provide the environment I want for a home or investment? Second, will the property have resale value when I am ready to sell?

4. Your REALTOR® can help you negotiate. There are myriad negotiating factors, including but not limited to price, financing, terms, date of possession and often the inclusion or exclusion of repairs and furnishings or equipment. The purchase agreement should provide a period of time for you to complete appropriate inspections and investigations of the property before you are bound to complete the purchase. Your agent can advise you as to which investigations and inspections are recommended or required.

5. Your REALTOR® provides due diligence during the evaluation of the property. Depending on the area and property, this could include inspections for termites, dry rot, asbestos, faulty structure, roof condition, septic tank and well tests, just to name a few. Your REALTOR® can assist you in finding qualified responsible professionals to do most of these investigations and provide you with written reports. You will also want to see a preliminary report on the title of the property. Title indicates ownership of property and can be mired in confusing status of past owners or rights of access. The title to most properties will have some limitations; for example, easements (access rights) for utilities. Your REALTOR®, title company or attorney can help you resolve issues that might cause problems at a later date.

6. Your REALTOR® can help you in understanding different financing options and in identifying qualified lenders.

7. Your REALTOR® can guide you through the closing process and make sure everything flows together smoothly.

8. When selling your home, your REALTOR® can give you up-to-date information on what is happening in the marketplace and the price, financing, terms and condition of competing properties. These are key factors in getting your property sold at the best price, quickly and with minimum hassle.

9. Your REALTOR® markets your property to other real estate agents and the public. Often, your REALTOR® can recommend repairs or cosmetic work that will significantly enhance the salability of your property. Your REALTOR® markets your property to other real estate agents and the public. In many markets across the country, over 50% of real estate sales are cooperative sales; that is, a real estate agent other than yours brings in the buyer. Your REALTOR® acts as the marketing coordinator, disbursing information about your property to other real estate agents through a Multiple Listing Service or other cooperative marketing networks, open houses for agents, etc. The REALTOR® Code of Ethics requires REALTORS® to utilize these cooperative relationships when they benefit their clients.

10. Your REALTOR® will know when, where, and how to advertise your property. There is a misconception that advertising sells real estate. NAR studies show that 82% of real estate sales are the result of agent contacts through previous clients, referrals, friends, family and personal contacts. When a property is marketed with the help of your REALTOR®, you do not have to allow strangers into your home. Your REALTOR® will generally prescreen and accompany qualified prospects through your property.

11. Your REALTOR® can help you objectively evaluate every buyer’s proposal without compromising your marketing position. This initial agreement is only the beginning of a process of appraisals, inspections and financing — a lot of possible pitfalls. Your REALTOR® can help you write a legally binding, win-win agreement that will be more likely to make it through the process.

12. Your REALTOR® can help close the sale of your home. Between the initial sales agreement and closing (or settlement), questions may arise. For example, unexpected repairs are required to obtain financing or a cloud in the title is discovered. The required paperwork alone is overwhelming for most sellers. Your REALTOR® is the best person to objectively help you resolve these issues and move the transaction to closing (or settlement).

For more information, Forbes magazine published a related article in May 2010 titled Five Reasons Why You Still Need a Real Estate Agent that touts the benefits of using professionals in the real estate transaction.

Article Source:  Frederick County Association of Realtors website: