Tag Archives: home buying

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

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Real Estate Market Conditions – March 2017


Real Estate Market Conditions – March 2017

Market conditions for real estate in Maryland continues to improve for March 2017.  However, it really depends if you are a buyer or seller.

Homes that settled in Maryland for March of this year increased by 18.8%.  That is good news for sellers, not so good for buyers.  In March 2017, there were a total of 6,850 homes sold compared to March 2016 where 5,768 homes sold.

The good news for sellers’ is that in March 2017 there were a total of 21,094 homes listed for sale compared to last year a total of 25,088 homes for sale.  This decrease in inventory has resulted in an increase of the average home price of 6.2%.

Months of Inventory is a measurement of how many months it would take to sell all the homes on the market at the rate homes are currently being sold.  For example:  If there are 1,000 homes for sale in a given location, and the market is selling 300 homes a month, the Months of Inventory would be 3.3 months.

Generally speaking, if there are 6 months or more of inventory it is considered a buyers’ market; 3-6 months is considered a neutral market; and less than 3 months is a sellers’ market.

In March of this year, Maryland remained in a neutral market, meaning it neither favored sellers or buyers.  However, in 2016 there were 4.3 months of inventory compared to 2017 that had 3.1 months of inventory. Maryland is very close to transitioning into a sellers’ market.

Because of the lower inventory this year, home prices have crept up, although not dramatically.  The average home price closed in March 2017 was $309,102; up from $291,071 in 2016.  This represents a 6.2% increase.

Individual county statistics should be coming out next week.

If you are thinking of buying or selling in the near future, 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 Buying or Selling


What Every REALTOR® Wants You to Know About Buying or Selling

Whether you are looking to buy or sell real estate, and whether it is your first transaction or your tenth, one of the most important things you can do is pick a REALTOR® who is the right fit for you.   If you talk to a seasoned real estate agent, they will undoubtedly tell you that you that you have to select a seasoned real estate agent.  If you ask a new agent, they will tell you that a new agent (who doesn’t have a lot of clients) will be able to spend more time and energy for you.

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As a seasoned agent I will tell you the truth (the truth according to Roland).  You can pick either a seasoned agent or a new agent – what is more important is how well you communicate with each other and whether or not you are on the same page with communication, open houses, showings etc.  A new agent still has the experience of a broker that they can turn to for advice.  And sometimes, seasoned agents think their way is the only way.

That being said the biggest problem is that 70% of buyers or sellers pick the first real estate agent they see.  Quite often if buyers go to an open house they will have the agent on site write a contract for them.  It is critical to remember that the agent that is at the open house works for the seller!  It’s the seller’s best interest that they are looking out for, not yours.

When sellers’ list their house for sale, they have a real estate agent that is representing them.  Buyers’ should do the same.  As buyers’ I strongly suggest that before you start looking, find a REALTOR® whom you are comfortable with and sign a buyers’ representation contract with them.  Then – and only then – do you have representation for your best interests.

Whether you are looking to buy or sell, I have a booklet to help you with many situations.  This booklet is free of charge and there is absolutely no obligation when you receive this booklet.  At the end of this blog is a form to add your name and email address and I will forward it 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 contact me by text or call me at 301-712-8808 or email me at RolandLow1@gmail.com.

Roland

What Every REALTOR® Wants You to Know – Mortgage Interest Rates


Unless you have cash to buy the home you want – and most people don’t – you will have to navigate the world of real estate mortgages and what all that entails.

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Most people do not “shop around” for mortgages.  They often times see an ad on the Internet for a low interest rate, call or email that company and the process starts.  But it is a good idea to look into various options for you mortgage.  At a minimum, talk to a mortgage person who can explain and point out different options for your mortgage.  One size does not fit all when it comes to real estate mortgages.

When a company advertises an interest rate for a mortgage, they are advertising a rate based on specific credit scores, amount of the loan, a specific down payment amount and on and on.  Often times those factors may not fit your particular situation, but sometimes there may be a better option.  It pays to talk to a mortgage officer to discuss your particular situation and see what program will work for you.

As of today, the mortgage interest rates for a 30 year fixed conventional rate is 3.5%; a 30 year fixed FHA mortgage is 3.375%.

Other options that may work for you is the VA at 3.25% and in certain circumstances, the USDA mortgage which is at 3.375%.

For more information about mortgages, contact Sharon Miller, loan officer, Coldwell Banker Home Loans at Sharon.miller@mortgagefamily.com or 717-331-2830.

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 – Its’ Hard Work Buying A House


Buying a house takes a lot of hard work. That is why having a REALTOR® on your side is a critical step in the buying process. But even then, home buyers will find themselves inundated with tasks that need to be done in order to get to the closing table and moving into the home of their dreams.

Deciding the type of home; the location; if school district is important; how long you plan to live there; if you’re planning a family; travel time to work or grocery stores; and on and on. Its’ also important to get with a mortgage person early on to make sure you qualify for a mortgage and decide which mortgage is the best option for you. And if you are a couple, coming to an agreement of what is important is often times twice as challenging.

All too often when people want to buy a house they search the Internet, and there is nothing wrong with that. But when they find a house that they are interested in they wait until their calendar is clear and then call an agent to maybe look at the property. Often times the property is already sold. Disappointed, they go back to the routine of looking for a house when their calendar is clear and “they have time.”

Finding a house to buy is hard work. It takes a coordinated effort by the buyers and the REALTOR® and it has to be a focal point in their lives. Quite often I talk with potential buyers’ who truly want to buy a house, but if they are renting, they wait until their lease is about up and then start the search only to find out that making it all come together will not happen in a short period of time and they wind up renewing their lease. If you are a current home owner and will be selling your home and buying another, that brings a whole other set of challenges.

But there is a solution to this dilemma. My suggestion is that if you are considering buying or selling in the foreseeable future, talk to a REALTOR® early on. If you are a first time home buyer, a year before you would like to buy is not too far in advance. It doesn’t mean that you will be consumed with home buying for the year, but it gives you a chance to lay the ground work of what you are looking for. More importantly, if there is a blemish on your credit report it will give you time to correct the problem before you try to get to a closing table.

If you are thinking of buying or selling, 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 Pricing Your Home


When you decide to list your home for sale, determining the correct listing price is absolutely critical. Unfortunately there is a lot of misinformation about the “value” of your home.

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There are numerous websites out there that will claim to be able to determine the “value” of your house without ever having seen it. Right there should be a warning sign for everyone. But there is a way to obtain a reasonable selling price of your home and its very easy.

First of all let me explain that there are two basic computerized programs that will determine a price that claims to be the selling price of your home.

The first one – and most widely proclaimed on the Internet – is the AVM method. The AVM method is the Automated Valuation Model. This is the model that is generally used by such websites as Zillow and Trulia. I have talked about these websites before and will not reiterate how misleading and inaccurate they are.

Basically the AVM method calculates a price based on a wide range of information that is public information on the Internet. Such items as sale price of other homes in that area, property tax appraisals, and general ups and downs of the market are factored in. The belief is that if you crunch enough numbers it will provide a truly accurate value. But that is not true. Real estate is a very local matter. What happens in one part of the country or state, or even the county for that matter, has very little effect on any particular home.

To complicate the matter, each of these companies utilize different criteria of how much emphasis their computer model will place on each of the data. This is what provides a wide range of what that websites believe should be the sale price of the home.

To give a demonstration of how wide the AVM models will operate, I checked a property in the Frederick County, Maryland area. The various models ranged from a high of $339,000 with homes.com to a low of $292,497 with zillow.com. That is a range of $46,503 and none of these models involve an experienced, licensed real estate agent looking at your property. If you are a seller you do not want to list too low and lose money in the transaction, but you also do not want to list to high and have your property sit on the market.

Determining a listing price for a home is part art and part science. Anyone in real estate for more than 20 minutes will tell you that. But here is the good news. The National Association of REALTORS® has rolled out a program that enables REALTORS® to utilize a very robust and complex model that will enable REALTORS® to hone in on the correct listing price like never before. The new model is called RVM -REALTOR® Valuation Model. It provides the same access to the public data as mentioned above but it also includes detailed data from the Multiple Listing Service. The icing on the cake is that it allows REALTORS® to determine very precise adjustments to a property based on condition of the property etc. This model is only available to REALTORS®.

If you are thinking of selling or buying, 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
REALTOR®

What Every REALTOR® Wants You To Know: Buyer Beware!


What Every REALTOR® Wants You To Know: Buyer Beware!

During the last several months I and every other REALTOR® has been advising potential buyers that are thinking of buying real estate to do it NOW! Many did, some did not. Here are the reasons for sounding the alarm for buyers and what to do about it.

Home Buying 101

No one doubts that there is a huge pent-up demand for home buying. Buyers are slowly moving back into the market, but they are facing a rapidly changing market place of which they need to be aware.

In the Frederick, Maryland area, home sales have been a buyers’ market for quite some time. A couple of months ago the inventory levels have dropped to the point that the market is now considered neutral – neither a buyers’ market nor a sellers’ market. And last month that number dropped even lower. Its still a neutral market, but closer to a sellers’ market, and that is bad news for buyers’. Good news for sellers’, though.

The good news for buyers’ is that mortgage interest rates remain low and that will help boost a home buyers’ purchasing power or enable more buyers to qualify for a mortgage. Mortgage applications for this year are up 20% compared to last year.

The REALTOR® website has reported a record number of searches for homes on its’ website. Nevertheless, there are about 2% fewer homes on the market compared to last year, making the search for buyers more critical. Not only are their fewer homes on the market, those homes that sell are selling faster than last year. The first two weeks of April of this year showed that homes sold 14 days faster than in March of this year.

Here is what I suggest that anyone even thinking of buying within the next year do.

Contact a REALTOR® and discuss with them your plans. They will be able to tell you the market conditions in your particular area. Real estate is a very local matter.
Once you decide to buy, not look, but buy, it should be like a job search. If you’re only looking now and then when its convenient, then you are probably wasting your time. Buying a house takes time and commitment.
If you find a house you want, don’t risk losing that house by over-thinking it. Sleeping on it a day or so may be wise, but the rule of thumb is ‘The house you looked at today and wanted to think about until tomorrow, may be the house someone looked at yesterday and wanted to think about until today.’ Be prepared to move – aggressively.
Your REALTOR® will most likely ask whether or not you have been pre-approved for a mortgage and for what amount. If not, get pre-approved immediately. You want to be able to present a pre-approval with any offer you make. It shows the sellers you are serious.
I advise buyers to make realistic offers on a home. Your REALTOR® will most likely be able to advise you if the asking price is a reasonable price for that market. If it is, my advice is to not low-ball the offer. More than likely you’re going to wind up close to the asking price anyway and you risk losing the house during the process. I have had clients who insisted on low-balling so bad that the sellers would not consider any offer they made. May not be right, but it happens.
Think seriously about what contingencies you absolutely need to have incorporated into the offer. I am a firm believer that a house inspection is an absolute must, but don’t nit-pick the findings as if you expect everything fixed.
If you want to give the impression to a seller that you really want to buy their house, do not drag out any response to a counter offer. Be prepared to respond quickly and concisely. By dragging out a response it tells the sellers that you may not be as excited about the house as they hoped. During that time sellers can retract any counter offer and accept a new offer.
The last thing I will mention is that buyers’ need to be clear on what they need and what they want. All to often I have clients tell me that granite counter tops “are a must”, yet those counter tops can be added at anytime for relatively little cost compared to a home.

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