Home Buying Season is Upon Us!


Home Buying Season is Upon Us!
As a professional REALTOR® I see my job as not only to find you the right house or the right buyer, but to keep you appraised of the market conditions that may impact you now or in the foreseeable future. That is why I want to share with you what market conditions are expected to do in 2018.
For the last several years real estate has been struggling to rebound from the 2008 housing crash.  The rebound has been slow, but steady.  Experts are now predicting, and all evidence suggests, that the housing market is about to take off.
Housing prices are not expected to go out of control as they did prior to the housing bubble, but the steady rise in housing prices will be coupled with a rise in mortgage interest rates which will result in substantial increases in the cost of buying a home.
Home prices are expected to increase between 2%-6% during 2018.  Low inventories will continue to help drive the prices up.  Mortgage interest rates are projected to increase from 3.95% to 4.90% by December 2018.
For example: A $500,000 home that you purchased in December, 2017 with the going interest rate of 3.95% would have a P&I (principle and interest) amount of $2,373 a month.
That same home purchased in December, 2018 with only a 2% price increase is projected to have a price of $510,000 (and possibly a price of $530,000 at 6.0% increase) and a mortgage interest rate of 4.90% will result in a P&I amount of $2,707.  A monthly increase of $334. That increase over the length of the standard loan would cost you an additional $120,240!
For comparison purposes these figures only compare price and mortgage interest rates and does not include property taxes, home owners insurance, PMI insurance, etc.  These figures will vary widely by area.
If you think 2018 may be your time to buy or sell a home, please give me a call today so we can discuss your particular situation and how I may be able to help.
Roland
REALTOR®
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When it comes to Flipped Houses – Buyer Beware!


When it comes to Flipped Houses – Buyer Beware!

 If you are in the home buying market for more than 20 minutes you will have undoubtedly seen the flipped properties that look absolutely spectacular.  From granite counter tops to high-end appliances; it looks like the perfect house.

However, it’s important to remember the contractor is flipping the house to make a profit – and the more profit, the merrier – for the contractor.

As a result, some contractors will do a fantastic job making the home presentable, but skip doing things that need to be done if it won’t be obvious to a potential buyer.

A couple who recently bought a 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom row house just outside Washington D.C. for $630,000 learned the hard way.  About six months after they had closed on what they thought was their ideal home, they were contacted by the D.C. housing inspector.  The inspector told them that his office was investigating the contractor who had flipped their home along with several other homes, and he needed to inspect their property.

The inspector visited their home and when he left he presented the home owners with pages of items that needed repair – to the total of well over $100,000!

Items that were identified (in-part) included:

  • The addition on the back of the unit that included two additional bedrooms and two bathrooms did not have permits to be done and would not have been approved had the contractor filed for a permit.
  • Electrical wiring was not up to code.
  • The beautiful wood flooring that was installed covered up termite damage that was not treated or repaired.
  • Parts of the property had serious mold issues that had not been treated, but simply covered up with dry wall.

Because the flipper had never lived in the property he is not required to submit a Residential Property Disclosure identifying all of the issues in the house,  The contractor, however, should have reported the issues to potential buyers as latent defects.

Latent defects are a “…fault in the property that could not have been discovered by a reasonable thorough inspection before the sale” but that the seller was aware of.

Unfortunately, if the current home owners decided to sell the property, they would have to disclose the issues now that they are aware of them.

Here are some tips to help ensure the property is what it appears to be before you sign on the dotted line.

  • Make sure the flipper provides a list of those who worked on the property, such as electricians, plumbers, etc. Make sure each of the contractors are licensed.
  • Request a list of work that was completed, including any warranty information.
  • Check with local officials to ensure permits were filed.
  • Have a professional termite and mold inspection along with a home inspection.
  • Make sure the housing authority has issued a certificate of occupancy.

In a hot market, a flipper may resist providing this information because he feels someone may buy the property without questioning anything.  That should be a red flag to you.

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

 

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Steps to Take Before Putting Your Home on the Market


Steps to Take Before Putting Your Home on the Market

 Putting your home on the market can be a daunting task, especially if  you are in the mindset of buying your next home.  But here are a few items to help you get ready for listing your home.

  1. Consider a pre-sale home inspection. An inspector will be able to give you a good indication of the trouble areas that will stand out to potential buyers, and you’ll be able to make repairs before the listing hits the market.
  2. Organize, clean and declutter. This is one area that is a major drawback to potential buyers.  Reduce clutter as much as possible.  Renting an off-site storage unit is a good idea where you can store items that will not be needed, such as seasonal items.  If renting an off-site storage facility is not feasible, pack unneeded items in boxes and store them neatly in garage or basement.  Clean windows, carpets, walls, lighting fixtures and baseboards to make your house shine.  Contacting a cleaning service for a deep clean may be a good idea.  Never – and I mean never – use scented candles or plug-in air fresheners to make your house smell good.  Not only are there many individuals who have respiratory issues, but the message you may send potential buyers is that you are trying to cover up a bad smell.
  3. Get some replacement estimates. If you have a leak in your roof, you absolutely must get that repaired, but if your roof is in tack but may need to be replaced in a few years, get an estimate from a reputable, licensed roofing contractor.  Even if you do not intend to do the repair at the time, when potential buyers look at the roof they will generally try to negotiate down more than the actual repair will cost.
  4. Locate warranties. Gather any warranties and user manuals for the furnace, washer/dryer, dishwasher, garage door opener etc.  Any contact information you have for services that were provided for the home are also great to have on hand.  For example:  If you have the furnace and air conditioner service regularly, the information you can provide will make it easier for the buyers.  Although many people strive to have this available at the closing. I think it’s a good idea to have it available when you list the house.  Potential buyers can see that you are proactive and have taken good care of the property.
  5. Spruce up the curb appeal. Walk out to your street and look at the front yard.  Try to imagine what a potential buyer would see.  I suggest that you ask your REALTOR® to help you with that task.  Needless to say, the curb appeal is the first impression the potential buyer has of your property.  When potential buyers visit your home, they will walk away with only a few memories of your property.  If they walk away with a favorable impression of the property they will be more likely to eventually make an offer.  If they walk away with a negative impression, it is unlikely they will make an offer.  Having a memory of the property that was too cold or too hot, or cluttered or whatever, it is less likely an offer will come your way.

Of course, the first thing you should do is sign a seller’s representation contract with a REALTOR® who can walk with you every step of the way.

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

 

 

 

All That Glitters is Not Gold


All That Glitters is Not Gold

 Originally, the phrase written by William Shakespeare in The Merchant of Venice was “All that glisters is not gold”, but the meaning is the same. Today the term glisters has evolved into glitters.  The Cambridge English Dictionary defines this phrase as “Something that looks good on the surface, but might not be when you look at it more closely.”

In real estate that phrase is very true.  When the real estate crash of 2008 came about real estate brokers scrambled to find ways to get clients.  The discount broker business started increasing in business, even though most of the full-service brokerages were often times matching the commission.

As the real estate market began rebounding the discount brokers were then scrambling to hold on to their sales.  To do so they began advertising their services as “discount real estate brokers with full service.”  Sounds good, right?  But be sure to read the small print.

Several years ago when the real estate market was at its lowest ebb, I had some clients who were looking to buy a house.  We met in the office and looked over some properties that I thought they would like and found one that really piqued their interest.  When I called the listing agent to set up a showing, he informed that they were a discount broker and that I should call the seller direct.

I called the seller and set up a showing.  My clients liked the house and wanted to submit an offer.  I called the agent again, and he informed that I needed to deal directly with the seller -weird.  I emailed the offer to the seller who promptly called me and asked if that was a good price!  I told him that I represented the buyers and he needed to call his agent to discuss with him.  The seller’s reply was that he did not want to call him because the discount broker charged him every time he called with a question! The offer sat on the table for a few days at which time my clients withdrew the offer and bought a different house.

In another example: I read an article recently where a broker claimed they were a full service brokerage while offering to list a property for a 1% commission sounds good.  Here’s the problem: That 1% does not include the commission that the listing broker will need to share with the buying broker.  In addition, that broker, although they advertised as “full service”, did not do any negotiating for price, setting up the closing date, negotiating findings of inspections, and on and on.  If you wanted your listing broker to do those functions, you will pay more – all that glitters is not gold!

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

Five Trends in Real Estate for 2018


Five Trends in Real Estate for 2018

 Here are five trends that building and design industry professionals predict will be upcoming trends for 2018.  It is important to note that a “trend” is something that will more than likely last ten years or more.  A fad is something that comes on the scene and can disappear as quickly as it emerged.

These five trends are predicted to stay for a while.

Smart Home Technology  Smart home technology is the number one trend that is predicted that home buyers will be looking for in 2018.  Adding smart home technology can make your home more attractive to young buyers who currently make up the largest population of home buyers.  Adding smart home technology can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $9,000 on average, but can increase the value of your home by 5%.  The most sought-after items include smart lights and thermostats and security features like locks and cameras.  One thing to keep in mind, any technology that is over five years old has little value to the home.

Open Floor Plans Open floor plans continue to be a sought-after option on homes, especially single floor homes.  Opening up the floor plan of a boxy home can make the home more appealing to a buyer.   However, this is a project for a professional to avoid weakening or trying to remove a load-bearing wall.  In any event, removing walls to open up the floor plan will most like only give a 60% return on investment.

Solar Energy  Solar energy is not a new but it is one that is making gains in today’s market.  The national average to install solar panels is between $20,000 and $25,000 and the ROI will vary depending on location and weather in your area.

Tiny Houses  Tiny houses have been around for a while, but there has been considerable interest in tiny houses the last few years.  Enough so that home builders are beginning to take it seriously.  Tiny houses can be built anywhere between $10,000 – $40,000 making these interesting to first time home buyers and minimalists.

Voice Control Systems  Artificial Intelligence and voice control systems round out the top trends for 2018.  Nearly all of the industry influencers agree that smart home systems that are controlled by AI or voice. Will be one of the biggest trends in 2018 and for years to come.

In addition to looking at the return-on-investment it is also important to remember that properties with current trends tend to sell quicker.

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

 

Fun Facts and Inspiration for February 12


Fun Facts and Inspiration for February 12

 Inspiration…

“Rough waters are a truer test of leadership.  In calm waters every ship has a good captain.”

Swedish Proverb

 

Did you know that…

 Beer commercials delight in having a perfect head of foam; however, to accomplish this, advertisers add dish soap to the beer.

 

Honey is the only food that does not spoil.

Leonardo da Vinci could write with one hand and draw with the other hand – at the same time.

Antarctica is the only land on the planet not owned by any country.

In Western countries the color of mourning is black.  In Turkey the color of mourning is violet; in Muslim countries and China the color of mourning is white.

 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

 

 

Preparing Your Home to Sell


Preparing Your Home to Sell

 In the middle of winter it is hard to imagine that spring will ever arrive, but it will be here sooner than you may think, especially if you are thinking of selling your home this spring.  Here are a few tips to help you get ready to list your home for sale.

One of the best steps you can take to get your home ready to sell is to find the right REALTOR® for you.  No two REALTORS® are alike, but it is important to find an agent that understands the business end of selling and buying real estate.  One of the qualifications that I think is critical is that you and your REALTOR® can communicate well.

That being said, here are four tips to help get your home ready to sell this spring.

Create a Blank Canvas  Your home may be immaculately decorated, but your décor is a reflection of your tastes and preferences – not those of the prospective buyers.  Your goal is to enhance your homes features and space in a way that helps buyers envision it as their own.  Having personnel pictures of your family scattered throughout the house makes it your home, not there’s.  Another tip is to declutter.  I have been in homes where my advice to sellers was three things: declutter, declutter, and then declutter some more.  Renting a storage facility for a few months is probably a good idea.

Spruce Up Curb Appeal  The old adage that you never get another chance to make a first impression is true in real estate.  The image that a potential buyer has of your home as their drive up will lay the ground work of what they see inside.  As a general rule of thumb, you should trim bushes and trees, plant seasonal flowers, reseed or lay sod in bare areas.  The front entrance should be clean and well-lit.  This may cost you a couple of thousand dollars to do it right, but studies have shown that good curb appeal can add 3%-5% to the sale of your home.  For a $250,000 home that would be $7,500 – $12,500 to the bottom line.

Price It Right  This is by far the most important thing to keep in mind.  A home that is not priced right, will more than likely sit on the market for a long period of time.  In real estate, that is the “kiss of death.”  Setting the right price is the key to attracting the right buyer.  Set your price too high, and you deter prospective buyers; too low and you leave money on the table that should be yours.  It is important to work with your agent to determine the best price to list your home for.  If your home has been on the market for longer than the average time in the area, it is a clear indicator that your home is not priced right.

Be Flexible  Without fail, things will go wrong, especially if you have a family with small children.  Often times we will have a client who has flown in from another part of the country and has limited time.  If you have instructed your agent that you do not want showings after a certain time, be flexible enough to understand that buyers also have time constraints – be flexible.

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

 

 

Whether you are a first time home buyer, moving up, scaling down or an investor in real estate, this blog has something for you!

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