Moving Up Into Something Bigger and Better – the Unparalleled Buying Opportunity of Today

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Are you an existing homeowner?  Have you been silently waiting and watching for the best time to buy up and get something better for your money?  After waiting nearly five years after the big real estate meltdown in 2007, now seems to be the best time yet to get in on the action.  Though many buyers are still wary of getting their feet wet with a mortgage during these still uncertain times, the very reason there are fewer buyers contributes to it being a soft market.  And before the market changes, now is the perfect time to seize this great opportunity that may not be around for too much longer.

It’s Not What It All Seems

One of the reasons many homeowners are reluctant to move into a new home and sell their existing home is that the false impression created by the national market statistics paints an obscure picture.  Contrary to what the media often portrays, foreclosures and short sales do not dominate the market in most areas.  While there are certain harder hit states like Florida, Michigan, California and Arizona – where there is a much larger number of distressed properties on the market, the truth is that many states have begin stabilizing.

More Bang For Your Buck

For homeowners that do take the plunge and sell their home despite it selling for a lower than ideal price, they end up walking away from the bargaining table with a far better home for the same monthly payment – and they are left with equity in their home.  Keep in mind that while you will have had to sell your home for a lower price, the home you are buying will also be sold for a lower price.  Factor in seller concessions, low down payment requirements and the unbelievably low interest rates – and you have got the deal of a lifetime!

Affordability That Allows More House

Many homeowners gauge whether or not they can afford a home based on the amount of payment they must make each month.  Given the historic low interest rates coupled with depressed housing values – the monthly payment for many homeowners that are buying up remains the same.  In essence, by taking advantage of the current market, you are able to live in a bigger and better home for the same monthly payment as before.

Who Knows How Long This Will Last

As we all witnessed in early 2007, anything can happen in real estate and it can be the most unsuspecting occurrence ever.  For those homeowners that are waiting around for interest rates to go even lower or housing values to drop even further – they may very well shoot themselves in the foot. Be careful not to wait too long.  Industry analysts are already reporting stabilization in many markets, leading to a forecast of steady incline of interest rates.  Housing values may drop a few more percent at best – but there is no way to tell when that point hits until they begin climbing again.
Rather than finding yourself regretting not buying up when the opportunity was ripe – take the time to explore your options today.  You might be surprised.  Who knows – you may even find your dream home!

20 Things You Can Do To Get Your Home To Sell Faster

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Want to have the upper hand on your selling competition?  Follow these 20 tips and watch your house sell faster than you can say, “SOLD!”

Apply a fresh coat of paint – try to use neutral colors that would appeal to most palates and would easily blend with most buyers’ tastes.

Stage the home –a buyer ideally should be able to envision living in the space. Set things up in a way that allow fluidity and extra space because better flow will be more attractive to prospective buyers and it will also allow them to see everything there is to see in the home.

Remove all traces of personalization – too many personal artifacts can hinder a sale because buyers can’t see the home for what it is. Keep things clean and try to set things up as you might see a home in professional photographs.

Steam clean all fabric surfaces – without realizing it, many homeowners neglect to clean much-needed areas and it costs them a sale.  Grungy surfaces will be cleaned, and it will also freshen up the space plus eliminate any odors from smoking or pets.

Replace less-than-perfect carpet – if you can afford it replacing stained carpet is a small investment that will go a long way.

Fix any loose ends – there are a surprising number of small things around the house that need repairing – usually items that can pop up during the buyer’s home inspection.  By working to address these items in advance, you save lots of time.

Decorate using neutral colors – neutral colors allow a buyer to imagine their own color palates rather than have to attempt to see through the homeowner’s tastes.

Provide incentives – pay for homeowners’ insurance for a year or leave existing paid for contracts of home-maintenance so that the new homeowners can use them till the contracts end.

Market the property using multiple marketing tools – Deviate from the standard listing practices and move toward the use of technological advances. Engage in proactive marketing such as using YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, 360-degree panoramic videos, individual property websites, instant real-time communication with prospects and more.

Hire a top-producing Realtor – the person you hire as your real estate agent will be a decision that will largely impact your success.  Top-producing Realtors usually have a wide network of associates, colleagues, business and person acquaintances as well as vendors and suppliers – all very useful to sellers.

Spruce up the curb appeal– The way a home looks from the moment one sees it is a very important impression on the buyer.  Neaten up messy flowerbeds, get rid of weeds, make sure the grass is watered and check the function of your storm door or entry-area. 

Put out a new welcome mat at the front door– nothing says, “buy me” more than the feeling of warm, cozy and being welcome.  A nice welcome mat is a small expense but it has a large impact as the first impression.

Allow easy and frequent access to your home for showing – provide prospective buyers ample opportunity to access your home.  The last thing you want is for a buyer to be interested only to lose that interest if they can’t see the home quickly.

Be willing to negotiate – Don’t be hung up on the price or the concessions you offered from the start.  If the feeling is right, be willing to come down a bit on price or give a little more concessions.

Price it right – Here is a great article on Trulia about the 7 Deadly Sins of Overpricing  your property. 
Leave in the extras – Buyers are attracted to homes that have major appliances included in the deal – simple.

Get a pre-sell home inspection and address any issues – A move-in read y home is clearly going to be the first choice for buyers.

Offer to pay part of the closing costs – it takes concessions to appease the savvy buyers of today.

Give your pets a new home– Pet smells is a turnoff to someone considering your home.  Consider moving it temporarily until the open house and/or showing period is over.

Highlight the home’s best features – If your home’s open floor plan and a great crosswind are fabulous then do your best to show them off.  It will definitely be a selling factor giving you an edge over your competitors.

How to Make a Buyer WANT Your House! Staging your house, before it’s too late and you lose the sale

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If you’ve shopped for a home, chances are you’ve come across one that you really wish you hadn’t visited in the first place. True, houses for sale ought to have a certain “lived in” quality to them, because they are to be lived in after all, but the art of tactfully balancing just the right amount of homeliness with neutrality is not so simple. You need to know what you’re doing when you prepare to set up your house and show it to potential buyers. We’ve put together some great tips for home-sellers so you can get the same results you’d get by hiring a professional staging company.

Fix Up the Place

One of the biggest mistakes homeowners make before putting their house up for sale is to neglect areas in the house that need attention. Folks, don’t leave that faulty step unrepaired, only for a potential buyer to step on, slide off of or worse, get injured on – FIX IT! You might think potential buyers won’t notice but they are walking around on your premises like hawks, noticing each little detail. The good news is that they are noticing the first-rate stuff too, so as long as you have the home’s amenities in order and other major areas in tip-top condition, you should be in good shape. Here’s how:

Get Rid of the Clutter

If you want to successfully sell your house, you need to get those potential buyers to imagine they already live there. Too much clutter, hobby-oriented items or personal possessions that most people may not be able to identify with, can easily get in the way of that vision. Organize things in stylish storage bins or better yet, have a garage sale before the open house and get rid of unwanted stuff. You have to move soon anyway, why not kill two birds with one stone? A clean and organized home will seem like a clean slate to buyers, who can then see themselves moving in without much hassle and settle in effortlessly.

Stay Neutral

Skip the tie and dye sofa cushions, shaggy 70s rug and don’t light incense on the day of your open house. While you’re at it, don’t fill the space with gender-specific things either. Buyers should walk into a neutral ground – literally. Light to medium colors, preferably in beige tones, are the simplest way to pull buyers’ attention away from other personal aspects of your home that they may not be able to identify with. Beige goes with almost anything so if someone considering purchasing your home can imagine their things in the space, then you’ve just crossed one of the most major hurdles in home-selling – making a buyer identify with the home.

Make It a Modern, Inviting Environment

If you don’t already have them, invest in a few modern decorative accessories to improve the look of your space while lending an air of style and taste and making it more enticing. It doesn’t have to take much but depending on how you set it up, you can enhance a given space with a few simple additions and deletions. Take your over-crowded study and rearrange the bookshelf to display only a few strategic but essential books, like a leather-bound set of encyclopedia or some literature classics. In the same way, leave a few children’s toys in a child’s room but be sure to display them tastefully.

Put a Few Finishing Touches in Place

The idea is that you want your house to be sold – and you probably want it sold fast. If you are careful to respect the people who are visiting your space to decide whether it’s the right one for them, then you are doing something that a lot of homeowners neglect to consider. Taking down a piece of controversial artwork that may make a potential purchaser uncomfortable could be the one bargaining chip that could make or break the sale. Arranging for all those who currently live in the home to be away during the open house and while showing the house being dressed in a way to present a good impression are also great ways to tip the scales in the right direction.

It’s very simple. You need to make the potential buyer feel right at home from the get-go. If from the moment they walk in and smell cinnamon cookies baking makes them wish this was already home – then you’re already two steps ahead and can call the open house a success! Of course, a signature on the dotted line is where the real success lies and as long as the buyer feels at home, chances are that if everything else lines up – the sale is a winner!

October 2011 Market Update for Baltimore and Harford Counties

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As the number 5 top real estate agency in the State of Maryland with RE/MAX– we get asked a lot of questions. Lately, people want to know how our area is performing in the real estate market. There is some good news, some not-so-good news and a few things in between but we all know that what goes up must come down and vice versa.

BRAC Resulted in Increased Renters

During the past two years our area has seen an influx of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) transfers, something that we had hoped would contribute greatly to the housing industry in our counties. Unfortunately we did not experience as much of a home buying spree, as we would have liked rather about half of the BRAC transfers ended up renting. It is our hope that these renters will soon venture into buying a home – a move that would collectively do the area a lot of good. We anticipate that as these residents spend more time in the vicinity they will feel more confident about making this area a long-term home for their families.

Homes Are Selling

In Harford County there are currently 1,600 homes on the market. Of them, anywhere from about 175 to 200 are selling each month.

Baltimore County’s listings amount to about 4,200 at the moment – and of these nearly 500 to 600 are selling every month, translating to an approximate 12% monthly absorption.

Ranchers and Colonials Are Going Fast

Not only are rancher homes selling fast but they are also selling at a good price, which is very good news for us. The other segment that is performing very well right now is colonial homes particularly in the Bel Air area. Properties priced at about the low 400s to the mid 500s are the ones that selling the quickest. Not only that – some of these properties are seeing multiple offers in a matter of days being on the market.

Inventory Levels Still Higher Than We’d Like

An ideal market is a balanced market and we are still a few months away from being balanced in terms of inventory. Currently we have anywhere from eight to ten months of inventory that must sell.

One type of dwelling where there is a higher surplus is in townhouses. There are currently a high inventory of townhomes on the market. Adding to that the fact that prices are down makes it an unpleasant time to try and sell for first time sellers, owners of these properties.

Beating This Market and Getting Homes Sold

With our years of experience in getting homes sold fast at the best price possible, we strive to help you with your home’s sale so you can enjoy maximum success. Given the condition of the market these days, we know how essential it is that you have an edge over other sellers.

To help our clients sell their homes we are focusing on getting them to work with a home stager. If you are considering putting your home up for sale at some time in the near to distant future, our team will come over to your home, go over what the expectations are and what is needed to accomplish those goals. Then, as the months leading to the sale of your home go by, you have plenty of time to work on the areas that need repair, rehabilitation or renovation.

One of the things we assist our clients in determining is how and where to distribute their funds in areas of their home needing attention before sale. Whether redoing your kitchen counter tops,  updating bathroom vanities, renovating the basement or replacing carpet and repainting the walls – we provide plenty of advice on these things so that your home will sell at the best price possible and in the least time needed.
Being in the top 5 of our state with RE/MAX, our team sells a lot of inventory in the Harford and Baltimore county area, we know what we’re doing and we are confident that the advice we give you will yield excellent results! We invite you to call us and we’ll come out to meet with you.

Five Things That Make Buying a House Today the Choice You Should Make

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We all know that interest rates have not been this low since before baby boomers were in control of things – but there is much more to it than just the rate you get when buying a home.  We wanted to share why so many people are compelled to forego the renting option and go straight to owning their own home.  When you combine the low, low prices of homes on the market these days with the interest rates that are as much as five times less than what they were a while ago – buying now makes more sense than ever.

More House for the Same Or Less Payment

Since property owners have to pay to maintain the house, the costs are usually passed onto the renters.  When you own your own home, not only can you afford a bigger house with better amenities, more space and in superior condition but considering todays’ market you can manage it with less out-of-pocket each month.

Better Neighborhood for the Same Or Less Payment

A major factor for families with children going to school, being in a better neighborhood provides added security and the presence of a better school district.  Again, considering the state of our current real estate market, the benefits of buying these days include being able to get into a far better neighborhood than if one was to rent.

Tax Advantages That Facilitate More Money In Pocket

Renters do not enjoy the tax advantages of being a homeowner.  Whether a first-time homebuyer, an energy-saving household or just through the regular homeownership tax deductions, the financial benefits of homeownership far outweigh those of people choosing to rent a home.

Fewer Total Moving Costs

With advantages provided to homebuyers in some mortgage programs allowing as little as 3.5% down or less to get into a home, the total cost to move in is often far less these days when buying versus renting.  Landlords typically expect rent for the first month plus a security deposit equal to first months rent, and pet deposits ranging from 200-2000. Most landlords are not allowing pets, and because the rental market is so busy the landlords can be very choosy.  What’s more, once you do move in there are extra charges to have pets and renters are largely limited through liability as well.

Extended Savings Through Delayed Initial Payment

When you rent a home, chances are that rent will be due immediately.  In fact, most renters cannot even move in until and unless they have paid their dues.  Conversely, depending on when the closing date is, homebuyers are able to get away with as much as 45 days without making the first mortgage payment, which is usually just the payment, real estate taxes plus private mortgage insurance if less than 20% was put down on the house.  Renters would have to pay as much as $3,500 (including security deposit and additional months’ rent as required) depending on their monthly payment amount.
With rates and home prices as low as they are, if you can afford it and if you qualify – this is a very good time to choose buying over renting.  To find out whether you can qualify for a home purchase, visit your Realtor today.

What’s a Real Estate “Short Sale” and Why Should I Buy One?

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The best way to explain a short sale is with an example:

Assume a homeowner has an unpaid loan mortgage balance of $200,000, but the property will sell for only $175,000. The lender holding the mortgage agrees to sell the house for the $175,000 amount, which, of course, leaves it “short” of the full amount of $200,000. Thus, the name “short sale!”

Obviously, lenders are not to crazy about short sales since they’re not in business to lose money. But such situations do occur for various reasons often related to “hardship” situations. Examples include:

- Permanent injuries
- Financial insolvency

- Job layoffs, etc.
- Divorce

This can be a difficult situation for the homeowner, but it does offer an opportunity for you to pick up a bargain as a buyer and for the homeowner to get a chance to start over. However, there are several potential downsides you should be aware of before you make an offer.

Pitfall 1: Allow time for the lender’s decision.
Once your offer is accepted by the seller, the contract will be sent to the seller’s lender for approval. This process can take anywhere from 1 to 6 months, and there’s oftentimes no way to know beforehand exactly how long the lender will take.

Pitfall 2: The lender is under no obligation to accept the short sale.
Often times, lenders will come back with a counter of a higher price, or will sometimes reject the offer outright. There is no way to know beforehand exactly what the lender is thinking. This risk can be reduced by pre-qualifying the seller and making sure he or she has a genuine hardship, and by making sure you offer close to market value.

Pitfall 3: The seller must be committed to the process.
A great deal of paperwork and commitment will be required of the seller. There have been cases where the seller does not complete everything that is necessary and causes the lender to reject the deal. Additionally, there have been cases where the seller backs out to declare bankruptcy. Make sure the seller is committed to the process before you begin!


You can pick up great bargains in the short sale market, but you have to be very knowledgeable and very patient! And, as mentioned earlier, there are risks and often times you will face disappointment. Hiring a professional realtor who has experience with the ins and outs of short sales can help reduce these risks.