Category Archives: Real Estate

2018 FHA Loan Limits – Maryland


2018 FHA Loan Limits – Maryland

The FHA just announced the loan limits for FHA loans for 2018. The limits vary by state and by county so it is important to talk to a REALTOR® or mortgage office to know the limit for your location.

In Maryland:

Carroll County                         $517,500                     (same as 2017)

Frederick County                     $679,650                     up from $636.150

Washington County                $453,100                     up from $275,665

If you have questions for any other county in Maryland, please feel free to contact me.

If you are looking to buy or sell, talk to a real estate professional – talk to a REALTOR® – who can give you the information you need to make an informed decision.

As always, if I can help with any of your real estate needs, please feel free to email me at RolandLow1@gmail.com or text or call me at 301-712-8808.

Roland

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What the Tax Bill May Mean for Home Owners / Buyers


What the Tax Bill May Mean for Home Owners / Buyers

 In a highly unusual move, the National Association of REALTORS® has come out with a position on the tax bills currently in Congress.  The NAR, normally a non-political association, has come out strongly opposed to the bills in both the House and the Senate, and here are the reasons why.

  • According to the NAR’s research estimates, home values will drop 10% on average during the first few years. If this bill becomes law, the decline in home values, especially for recent home buyers, may find themselves underwater with their mortgage.
  • The one trillion dollar increase in the national debt that stems from the tax cuts could cause interest rates to increase, “exacerbating the negative aspects of the tax bill for current and prospective homeowners.”
  • As of the date of the National Association of REALTORS® report, the house version of the bill will eliminate the deduction for home equity loans, but will retain deductions for the primary residence. The Senate bill will eliminate the mortgage interest rates completely. The deductions will be allowed for investment properties for both the mortgage and any home equity loans.
  • Deductions for property taxes will be limited; however, the deductions for investment properties will not be limited.

The real estate market has made significate gains in the last few years as it recovers from the 2008 collapse of the economy and more precisely the real estate market.  Nevertheless, the real estate market still has a way to go for substantial growth.  The National Association of REALTORS® and this writter does not believe the bill before the House or the Senate will do nothing but harm the economy and the real estate market.

Roland

Advice for Home Sellers


Advice for Home Sellers

 Selling your home can be one of the most difficult tasks most people will undertake.  It is a complicated financial, marketing, negotiating ordeal that few people are prepared to undertake.  Even with the help of an experienced real estate agent, the ordeal can seem overwhelming.

Let me share some advice that will hopefully help you in this process.

First and foremost – and I cannot stress this enough – you must find a REALTOR® who can provide you with the experience and expertise to handle this daunting task.  All too often, potential sellers reach out to an agent they met at the open house of the property they want to buy.  The problem is that the agent at the open house is there to represent the sellers’ interests, not yours.  The other scenario is that the agent you select is your Aunt Betty Ann’s cousin twice removed whom you have never met and it was just expected that you would use this agent.  Select your own agent who will give you the professional advice you need to maximize the selling price of your home and be on top of things every step of the way.

It is important that agents and clients have a clear understanding of what communications need to take place and how they would like to communicate.  I had some clients who wanted me to communicate with text messages to each of them. They would then talk amongst themselves and the wife would call me with an answer or questions. It worked great, but I needed to know that upfront.  I learned this by asking them during our initial meeting how we wanted to communicate.

The second important issue in selling your home is determining the selling price.  All too often, agents succumb to listing the property for the amount the sellers want to sell it for and not the actual market price.  As an agent, I have an obligation to provide the accurate price that the house will most likely sell for.  In this business over pricing your home is the kiss of death.  Don’t do it.  Homes that linger on the market have a much greater chance of not selling or for a price lower that what you could originally obtained.  Price it right.

The third issue is preparing your home to sell.  This is one of the most difficult areas for real estate agents.  I previewed a very expensive home several years ago that the kitchen table had the morning breakfast dishes left.  The family obviously left in a hurry to get out the door that day, but what I remember about that house is not the fabulous lay out, but rather the dirty dishes left on the table.

In this area, it is important that agents are afforded the right to critique the presentation of the house.  If there are things that need to be decluttered or repaired, be sure to do that.  Unfortunately, at that point in a sellers’ life they are probably focusing on the home they are buying and not on the home they want to sell.

If you are thinking of buying or selling talk to a real estate professional – talk to a REALTOR® – who can give you the information you need to make an informed decision.

As always, if I can help with any of your real estate needs, please feel free to text or call me at  301-712-8808 or email me at RolandLow1@gmail.com.

Roland

 

 

 

 

What Every REALTOR® Wants You To Know About Warning Signs


What Every REALTOR® Wants You To Know About Warning Signs

 When you are in the market of buying a home, all too often home buyers let emotions rule rather than sound advice about the home you are about to buy.  Here are some tips that every buyer should have on their radar when looking at a home.

  1. All too often sellers think it is a good idea to have an overwhelming scent in the house to make it smell pretty! Unfortunately, what is a good smell to one, is a bad smell to another.  The word of advice for sellers, make sure your house is clean – the less smell you have in the house, the better.  As a REALTOR®, I would advise anyone and everyone to avoid scents in your home, especially burning scented candles.  Artificial scents in the home may be an attempt to mask other scents.
  2. Buyers should be aware of deferred maintenance, such as burned out light bulbs, leaky faucets, yard that is not groomed. These may be signs that other maintenance was ignored, such as changing furnace filters on a regular basis.  Deferred maintenance can cost the home buyer later.
  3. Cosmetic touch up can be an indication of a larger, ignored problem. A room that has one wall repainted, but not the rest, may be indicative of a problem that needed to be covered up, such as a water leak.
  4. Foundation cracks may be slight cracks from settling or it may be a sign of a much more serious problem. I have repeated many times in this blog to always, always, always have a home inspection done by a qualified, certified home inspector.  Only then can you be reasonably sure that the crack in the foundation is normal or an indication of a much more serious problem.
  5. Most buyers are aware to look for water damage within a house, such as spots along a wall that may have indicated a water leak at some point in time. But the other thing involving water that buyers should be alert too is that beautiful creek out back.  What may be a quaint babbling brook may turn into a torrent of water with the slightest of rain and may encroach your home.
  6. Several years ago, mold became the issue that every buyer was looking for. Black mold was the kiss of death in trying to sell your home and rightfully so.  Black mold is a very serious health risk and buyers need to be aware of mold.  However, let me very clear, just because a mold is black does not mean it is Black Mold.  Only someone certified in identifying the various types of mold can make that determination and only then by having it tested by a lab.  Never the less, any indication of mold indicates an abundance of moisture in an area and needs to be evaluated.
  7. As indicated in number 6, uncontrolled moisture can lead to several problems and may indicate improper ventilation. A good home inspector will be able to identify this issue and say what the problem most likely is.
  8. One area that I think buyers and even real estate agents may overlook is the unanswered question on a home disclosure. Most people will skim the disclosure form looking for something to jump out at them, but pay little attention to a question that the seller simply did not answer. To me that is a red flag that warrants extra scrutiny.
  9. Windows that do not open and close smoothly may be an indication of foundation issues or simply cheap, poorly installed windows. In either case, it can cost the buyer money down the road.
  10. One area that warrants a closer look and that is any patch work. If you have ever had a plumber come to repair a leak from a pipe in the wall, you will know that they will cut a spot out of the wall, repair the leaky pipe and leave you to repair the hole in the wall.  Trying to get someone out to repair one small section of drywall is next to impossible, so often times home owners will try to repair it themselves.  Be watchful for repair work on drywall or tiled areas that appear to have small areas that were patched.

If you are thinking of buying or selling, talk to a real estate professional – talk to a REALTOR® – who can give you the information you need to make an informed decision.

As always, if I can help with any of your real estate needs, please feel free to text or call me at 301-712-8808 or email me at RolandLow1@gmail.com.

Roland

A Home with Ample Room Inside and Out!


If you, or someone you may know, is looking for a large, bright home with plenty of space inside and out, I have just the home for you!

This home is currently listed at $749,900.  It has 5,877 taxable square feet with an additional 2,000 finished square feet in the walk-out basement for a total of 7,877 square.  That breaks down to $95 a square foot.  This home has beautiful appointments and can not be built for this price.

The home has 6 bedrooms; 4.5 bathrooms; two-story family room; master bedroom with fireplace and large sitting area; a bright, beautiful sunroom, a formal living room; formal dining room; two family rooms; and on and on.

It sits on 1.96 acres with plenty of room in the back for an in-ground swimming pool or other recreational events.

Here’s the best news – the listing says the seller is “motivated”, which means if you even think you may like this property, give me a call to set up a showing and make an offer – before it’s too late!

If you are thinking of buying or selling, talk to a real estate professional – talk to a REALTOR® – who can give you the information you need to make an informed decision.

As always, if I can help with any of your real estate needs, please feel free to text or call me at 301-712-8808 or email me at RolandLow1@gmail.com.

Roland

Buying a Home Is Easier Than You May Think


Buying a Home Is Easier Than You May Think

One of the comments I hear from prospective home buyers is they cannot finance a home right now.  Let’s be honest, there are many hoops to jump through when buying a house, especially when it comes to obtaining a mortgage.  But it is easier than you may think.

If you are even remotely interested in buying a home now or in the foreseeable future, I suggest that you meet with a REALTOR® to discuss the steps you may need to take to make it happen.

Obtaining a mortgage is a big step in buying a home, but there are programs out there that will work for you.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Home Loan Program may be just what you are looking for.

The U.S.D.A. program allows for 100% financing and has flexible credit and qualifying guidelines.  The minimum credit score at the time of this writing is 620.  If your credit score is currently below that number I would encourage you to talk to a REALTOR® who can get you in touch with a mortgage officer who can provide guidance on the specific steps to take to increase your score.

In addition to 100% financing the program allows for closing costs to come from other sources than your bank account.  Sources could include seller contribution and/or gift funds.

There are fees associated with the loan program but those fees can be rolled into the mortgage.

There are some restrictions, such as location of the home and income limits.  These limits can be provided by your REALTOR® or mortgage officer very easily.  For example: In Frederick County, Maryland for 2017, the income limit for a family of up to four is $108,550; five or more family members is $143,300.

If you are thinking of buying or selling, talk to a real estate professional – talk to a REALTOR® – who can give you the information you need to make an informed decision.

As always, if I can help with any of your real estate needs, please feel free to text or call me at 301-712-8808 or email me at RolandLow1@gmail.com.

Roland

 

 

Finding the Right Mortgage Officer


Finding the Right Mortgage Officer

Anyone who has bought a house will tell you that finding the right REALTOR® and the right mortgage person is absolutely critical.  If you talk to a REALTOR®, they will tell you that you should select your real estate agent first; if you talk to a mortgage person they will say you should select your mortgage person first.  In reality it doesn’t matter which one you select first as long as you select people who are going to do a good job for you.

There is one factor that is critically important when selecting a mortgage person that I think warrants discussion.  If you are like millions of people in this country who may have less than stellar credit, or do not have a gazillion dollars to put down, it is important to have a mortgage person who can guide you in making those decisions.

All too often I have clients who talk to a mortgage person only to be told that they do not qualify for a mortgage without telling them what they need to do to correct the matter.  The good news is that there are some mortgage officers who have the computer programs and the desire to provide this information to clients.

I have had clients who thought they needed to have no debt in order to buy a house and have used all their money to pay off credit card debt but then did not have the money for closing costs or down payments.

Before you make that decision I would encourage you to talk to a mortgage person or a REALTOR® who can get you in touch with a mortgage officer who can advise you on what to pay down and what not to pay down.  It really does matter.

If you are thinking of buying or selling, talk to a real estate professional – talk to a REALTOR® – who can give you the information you need to make an informed decision.

As always, if I can help with any of your real estate needs, please feel free to text or call me at 301-712-8808 or email me at RolandLow1@gmail.com.

Roland