Friday, November 26, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Selling your home can be like a single person trying to get the attention of a prospective date--got to clean up, pour on the charm, and emphasize all those great assets.
However, if you can't get the prospective candidate to even notice you (or, in this case, your home), there sure won't be a date and that goes for the selling of your home, too (no closing date).
I've written a lot about staging homes, adding curb appeal, clearing clutter, even adding subtle fragrances to help put prospective buyers in the mood. When it comes to getting a home noticed, especially in these market conditions, you'll want to pay close attention to get the deal done before the end of the year.
1. Change with the seasons. When you go to stores, one thing you notice is the decor changes to match the time of year. That's by no mistake. The goal is to create a mood, make consumers want to buy more. Psychological and emotional advertising influence buyers all the time. If you put your home on the market in the fall and still have spring decorations around the house, it'll affect buyers. They won't feel quite comfortable. It might not be obvious to them but somehow they're likely to feel that things are “out of place” in this home even if the decor isn't overwhelming. Having out-of-season decor just leaves buyers feeling like the house isn't being well cared for.
2. Make it cozy. One of the easiest ways to make your home cozy is by drawing attention to the fireplace. As the weather turns colder, flaunting your fireplace as a focal point is often a great selling point. You can turn your fireplace into a prominent focal point by placing mirrors, artwork, and vases on the mantel. A popular trend is to place candles near the fireplace. However, rather than using real candles, you might try flameless candles that put out a soft, realistic glow.
3. Crank up the thermostat. A lot of times during open houses, the home is quite cozy because the homeowners turned up the thermostat in preparation for the prospective buyers. But when it comes to routine individual showings, especially when the house has been sitting vacant, buyers can receive a chilly non-welcome which does little to make them feel at home. Setting the thermostat to keep the home at a comfortable temperature may cost a bit more but in the end your home will be more appealing. If the home's temperature is either too cold or hot, buyers won't stick around to explore it.
4. Shine the natural light. Hold your open house during the high daylight hours. Lighting is a big attraction and often helps sell your home better. Have your agent schedule individual showings during the time of day when you know the natural lighting will light up your home. Serious buyers will often come by at different times of the day to see the home in different lighting but put your best foot forward and show your home when you know the natural lighting will favor your home.
5. Play soft ambient music. Soft, non-distracting background music can help ease tension. Often the homebuying experience is stressful. Buyers are pressed for time and cash. They are in a hurry. Selling a home is a psychological experience that goes beyond just finding a place to live. The emotional feeling buyers get when visiting your home will result in the action they take--coming back to see it again, making an offer, or crossing it off their list. Playing peaceful music that doesn't overwhelm them can enhance their mood and make them feel like relaxing for a bit in a comfortable chair in your living room ... allowing them to soak up the positive experience.
Remember the key rule when selling a home, make your home seem like theirs. Today's Local Market Conditions Report
Friday, October 15, 2010
This week, it became clear the Federal Reserve is inclined to pour more cash into the economy in an effort to make interest rates go down and prices go up. The Fed would accomplish this by starting another round of quantitative easing -- a fancy term for buying Treasury notes. By paying for billions of dollars' worth of Treasuries, the Fed would add billions of dollars to the money supply. In theory, this would cause a drop in interest rates, including mortgage rates.
The Fed could begin its next round of quantitative easing as soon as early November, after its next scheduled rate policy meeting Nov. 2-3. Quantitative easing isn't a sure thing, but members of the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee meeting have already discussed how they would go about it.
That discussion was described in the minutes of the Sept. 21 rate policy meeting, released this week. There was some disagreement over the trigger for quantitative easing -- whether the Fed should act if the jobs picture doesn't get better or if it should wait until unemployment gets worse. Although the Fed members didn't agree on whether more monetary stimulus is necessary yet, they did agree on how they would do it -- according to the minutes, they would buy long-term Treasuries.
They also discussed "purchasing additional long-term assets." Last year and early this year, that meant buying mortgage-backed securities. That's what it would mean this time, too. The Fed's minutes say some participants noted "that the economic benefits could be small in current circumstances" -- an indication they don't believe mortgage rates have much room to move lower.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
“The real issue facing the nation’s economy right now is that many Americans can’t find meaningful work to support their families,” said NAR President Vicki Cox Golder, owner of a real estate company in Tucson, Ariz. “While a job recovery is what’s needed right now to get the economy and housing market back on the right track, owning a home continues to be part of the American Dream and one of the best long-term investments in your future.”
Despite economic uncertainty, 68% of those surveyed still believe now is a good time to buy a home; while that number is down from last year (75%), it’s up from 2008 (66%) and 2007 (59%). Lower home prices and record-low mortgage interest rates may be attracting buyers to the housing market—more than one-fourth of renters said they are thinking more about buying a home than they were a year ago. Sixty-three percent of renter respondents said that owning a home is a priority in their future, and nearly 40% said it was one of their highest priorities.
Lower home prices have improved affordability. In fact, the percentage of renters who are worried that the cost of housing is getting so unaffordable that they will never be able to buy a home has decreased steadily since 2007, from 63% to 57%.
Despite improved affordability, 79% of respondents still consider having enough money for down payment and closing costs to be among the biggest obstacles to buying a home. Another obstacle is a lack of confidence in their ability to be approved for a loan, reported by 73% of respondents.
The good news is that Americans are seeing more stability in the real estate market. Nearly seven out of 10 believe that home values have stabilized in their area; the same number expects home sales to remain about the same through the end of the year.
While more than half (51%) say foreclosures are a problem in their area, the rate of foreclosures is also seen as stabilizing; 51% say the rate is about the same as last year. Thirty-six percent of respondents cite the recession, loss of jobs and the poor economy as the main reason for the ongoing foreclosure problem. This has also led to a slight increase in the number of people who believe the federal government should take a more active role overseeing loans and mortgages (44%, up from 43% last year).
While nearly seven out of 10 say it’s harder to sell a home in their area today than it was a year ago, it’s less of a concern from last year when the number was 10 percentage points higher. This is most likely the result of lower home inventories.
The 2010 National Housing Pulse Survey is conducted by American Strategies and Myers Research & Strategic Services for NAR’s Housing Opportunity Program. The telephone survey was among 1,209 adults living in the 25 most populous metropolitan statistical areas. The study has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
For more information, visit www.realtor.org.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Although you may not be in the market to purchase a home, please pass this information to someone you know who may be interested. Feel free to call or email me with any questions.
Jennifer@LivingMD.com or (410) 409-2393
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
The site is http://makinghomeaffordable.gov and shares information about how this program works and who is eligible for assistance. This is the same $75 billion program you may have heard of recently in the media.
The homeowner you are working with should have the following available:
* Information about your first mortgage, such as your monthly mortgage statement.
* Information about any second mortgage or home equity line of credit on the house.
* Account balances and minimum monthly payments due on all of your credit cards.
* Account balances and monthly payments on all your other debts such as student loans and car loans.
* Your most recent income tax return.
* Information about your savings and other assets
* Information about the monthly gross (before tax) income of your household, including recent pay stubs if you receive them or documentation of income you receive from other sources.
* It may also be helpful to have: A letter describing any circumstances that caused your income to be reduced or expenses to be increased (job loss, divorce, illness, etc.) if applicable.
Understand that it has always been our intention to help homeowners stay in their homes, however in many cases even with this program that will still not be possible. In these cases it is critical you help the homeowner avoid foreclosure.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Assessment notices mailed today to 731,611 property owners across the State reflect the change in real estate values since these properties were revalued in 2005. Over the past three years, property values have experienced a mixed change in value with 50% decreasing or no change and 50% having some increase. The amount of increase/decrease is reflective of the area being reassessed and price ranges. On average, statewide residential values decreased by 3.4% and commercial property increased by 17.5%.
Property owners are receiving a redesigned assessment notice. Properties designated as the owner’s principal residence will receive a Homestead Tax Credit eligibility application if they have not already applied. The purpose of the application is to certify where their principal residence is located….
In Maryland, properties are reassessed, by law, once every three years. Properties are required to be assessed at their current market value so that each property owner pays only their fair share of local property taxes. The properties being reassessed were last revalued for the 2006 tax year. The new assessments are based upon the examination of more than 71,206 sales which have occurred in the reassessment area over the past three years. Emphasis has been placed on sales which occurred during the first half of 2008. Any increase in property value is phased-in equally over the next three years. Any decrease is fully implemented in the first tax year and remains at the reduced assessment for the full three year cycle.
New owners are not eligible for the Homestead Tax Credit for the first year.
You may appeal the property assessment within 45 days of receipt.
For further information, contact the State Department of Assessments and Taxation at 410-767-1184. Extensive reassessment data and information is available from the Department’s website at www.dat.state.md.us.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Thursday, December 18, 2008
For more information on this process feel free to contact me, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Study Shows Housing Values Have Climbed
News reports have been packed with stories about declining home values, but a recent government report shows that the situation is not nearly so dire as some reports make it sound.Despite big loses in some areas of the country, the majority of markets continue to show growth in home value over the last five years.According to the third-quarter survey released by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, out of 292 metropolitan markets, 273 showed positive net home values in the last five years. Only 19 percent were negative. While home values declined 4 percent on average in the last year, values were up nearly 29 percent over the past five years.According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency, markets that gained the most over the last five years were:
- Honolulu: up 78.7 percent
- Virginia Beach: 72.6 percent
- Flagstaff, Ariz.: 66.5 percent
- Bellingham, Wash.: 65.6 percent
- Wilmington, N.C.: 62.1 percent
- Baltimore: 60.6 percent
Source: The Washington Post Writers Group, Kenneth R. Harney, (12/06/08)
Friday, December 5, 2008
Housing Showing Signs of Recovery
“With all the turbulence and losses in stocks and bad economic news in the headlines lately,
you can easily lose perspective on what's really going on in the real estate sector.
- Well, remember that there is a huge pent-up demand simmering away out there for
housing – especially from first-time buyers who want to scoop up low-priced deals.
- Fixed 30 year rates fell from 6.5% to 6.24% during the week. Fifteen year rates broke
below 6% to 5.9%, down from 6.14%.
- Pending home sales were higher than year-earlier levels for the second straight month
– 1.6% higher than September 2007.
- Although pending sales contracts were down slightly for the month, in the Western
states they were up by 3.7%, and now stand at an extraordinary 39.7% higher than
they were at the same time in 2007.
- Already sales are up significantly in major markets in many parts of the U.S. NAR Chief
Economist Lawrence Yun specifically mentioned the west coast of Florida, the Phoenix
area, Virginia, Long Island, N.Y., Kansas City, Minnesota and Idaho.
So here's the key point to keep in mind as you try to make sense of the headlines: The
stock market is NOT the housing market. It's on a whole different set of tracks. And it's been in a highly volatile state for more than a month. Housing, on the other hand, has already endured its painful correction for two and a half years … is now pretty much stabilized … and is slowly moving toward its cyclical recovery.”
-- “Real Estate Outlook: Housing in Recovery,” by Kenneth R. Harney, Realty Times, Nov. 18, 2008.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008
Motivated Sellers and Inventory
Now is an ideal time to buy, in most markets prices won’t go any lower and there is an abundance of inventory. Inventory of homes for sale is at a 15-year high. There are many options out there for many buyers and many sellers who are willing to negotiate and work towards a win-win situation that works for both parties.
Log on to www.LivingMD.com to see all active properties for sale in the MLS.
The Market is Strong in 2008 and Every Market is Different
Remember that all real estate is local and that all markets are different. There are opportunities out there for a buyer if you are willing to investigate your options. There are many grant programs out there, which can virtually mean free money for home buyers.
2007 was the fifth best year on record for existing home sales despite the public apprehension about the real estate market. In fact 2007 was very similar to the home sales and price gains experienced in 2002, when consumers were very confident about the market.
FHA Loans Set to Increase
There are many choices for buyers looking for mortgages in this market. One option, FHA home loans are a viable alternative for many first time buyers. The Federal Housing Administrative (FHA) – which is part of HUD – insures the loan, so your lender can offer you a better deal, offering low down payments, low closing costs, and easy credit qualifying. FHA market share for home purchases is expected to triple over the next 3 years, from an estimated 4% in 2007 to an estimated 12% in 2009.
Benefits of Ownership
Owning a home is the American Dream. It not only provides amazing tax benefits, but it also provides shelter and security to families. Did you know that:
▪ Dollar for dollar the rate of return on an individual’s cash down payment on a house is substantial? And that repeat buyers are able to put 19% more down on a new home due to appreciation?
▪ Home owners move less often and are more likely to vote and volunteer time for political and charitable causes than renters?
▪ When you own a home you can deduct the property taxes and mortgage interest from your income taxes?
▪ The gains that you make on a primary residence that you’ve occupied for two years out of five can be tax free?
Contact your accountant to verify this information.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
You don't want problems from prior ownerships to interfere with your rights to your property. And you don't want to pay the potentially ruinous cost of defending your property rights in court. A title insurance policy is your best protection against potential title defects, which can remain hidden despite the most thorough search of public records and the most careful escrow or closing.
For a one-time premium First American agrees to reimburse you for loss due to defects existing prior to the issue date of your policy, up to the policy amount. And, should it be needed, the policy also provides for the cost of legal defense of your title. The standard coverage policy protects you against such potential defects as:
- Forged deeds, mortgages, satisfactions or releases
- Deed by person who is insane or mentally incompetent
- Deed by minor (may be disavowed)
- Deed from corporation, unauthorized under corporate bylaws or given under falsified corporate resolution.
- Deed from partnership, unauthorized under partnership agreement
- Deed from purported trustee, unauthorized under trust agreement
- Deed to or from a "corporation" before incorporation, or after loss of corporate charter
- Deed from a legal non-entity (styled, for example, as a church, charity or club).
- Deed by person in a foreign country, vulnerable to challenge as incompetent, unauthorized or defective under foreign laws
- Claims resulting from use of "alias" or fictitious name style by a predecessor in title.
- Deed challenged as being given under fraud, undue influence or duress.
- Deed following non-judicial foreclosure, where required procedure was not followed.
- Deed affecting land in judicial proceedings (bankruptcy, receivership, probate, conservatorship, dissolution of marriage), unauthorized by court.
- Deed following judicial proceedings, subject to appeal or further court order.
- Deed following judicial proceedings, where all necessary parties were not joined.
- Lack of jurisdiction over persons or property in judicial proceedings.
- Deed signed by mistake (grantor did not know what was signed).
- Deed executed under falsified power of attorney.
- Deed executed under expired power or attorney (death, disability or insanity of principal).
- Deed apparently valid, but actually delivered after death of grantor or grantee, or without consent of grantor.
- Deed affecting property purported to be separate property of grantor, which is in fact community or jointly-owned property.
- Undisclosed divorce of one who conveys as sole heir of a deceased former spouse.
- Deed affecting property of deceased person, not joining all heirs.
- Deed following administration of estate of missing person, who later re-appears.
- Conveyance by heir or survivor of a joint estate, who murdered the decedent.
- Conveyances and proceedings affecting rights of service-member protected by the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act.
- Conveyance void as in violation of public policy (payment of gambling debt, payment for contract to commit crime, or conveyance made in restraint of trade).
- Deed to land including "wetlands" subject to public trust (vesting title in government to protect public interest in navigation, commerce, fishing and recreation).
- Deed from government entity, vulnerable to challenge as unauthorized or unlawful.
- Ineffective release of prior satisfied mortgage due to acquisition of note by bona fide purchaser (without notice of satisfaction).
- Ineffective release of prior satisfied mortgage due to bankruptcy of creditor prior to recording of release (avoiding powers in bankruptcy).
- Ineffective release of prior mortgage of lien, as fraudulently obtained by predecessor in title.
- Disputed release of prior mortgage or lien, as given under mistake or misunderstanding.
- Ineffective subordination agreement, causing junior interest to be reinstated to priority.
- Deed recorded, but not properly indexed so as to be locatable in the land records.
- Undisclosed but recorded federal or state tax lien.
- Undisclosed but recorded judgment or spousal/child support lien.
- Undisclosed but recorded prior mortgage.
- Undisclosed but recorded notice of pending lawsuit affecting land.
- Undisclosed but recorded environmental lien.
- Undisclosed but recorded option, or right of first refusal, to purchase property.
- Undisclosed but recorded covenants or restrictions, with (or without) rights of reverter.
- Undisclosed but recorded easements (for access, utilities, drainage, airspace, views) benefiting neighboring land.
- Undisclosed but recorded boundary, party wall or setback agreements.
- Errors in tax records (mailing tax bill to wrong party resulting in tax sale, or crediting payment to wrong property).
- Erroneous release of tax or assessment liens, which are later reinstated to the tax rolls.
- Erroneous reports furnished by tax officials (not binding local government).
- Special assessments which become liens upon passage of a law or ordinance, but before recorded notice or commencement of improvements for which assessment is made.
- Adverse claim of vendor's lien.
- Adverse claim of equitable lien.
- Ambiguous covenants or restrictions in ancient documents.
- Misinterpretation of wills, deeds and other instruments.
- Discovery of will of supposed intestate individual, after probate.
- Discovery of later will after probate of first will.
- Erroneous or inadequate legal descriptions.
- Deed to land without a right of access to a public street or road.
- Deed to land with legal access subject to undisclosed but recorded conditions or restrictions.
- Right of access wiped out by foreclosure on neighboring land.
- Patent defects in recorded instruments (for example, failure to attach notarial acknowledgment or a legal description).
- Defective acknowledgment due to lack of authority of notary (acknowledgment taken before commission or after expiration of commission).
- Forged notarization or witness acknowledgment.
- Deed not properly recorded (wrong county, missing pages or other contents, or without required payment).
- Deed from grantor who is claimed to have acquired title through fraud upon creditors of a prior owner.
An extended coverage policy may be requested to protect against such additional defects as:
- Deed to a purchaser from one who has previously sold or leased the same land to a third party under an unrecorded contract, where the third party is in possession of the premises.
- Claimed prescriptive rights, not of record and not disclosed by survey.
Physical location of easement (underground pipe or sewer line) which does not conform with easement of record.
- Deed to land with improvements encroaching upon land of another.
- Incorrect survey (misstating location, dimensions, area, easements or improvements upon land).
- "Mechanics' lien" claims (securing payment of contractors and material suppliers for improvements) which may attach without recorded notice.
- Federal estate or state inheritance tax liens (may attach without recorded notice).
- Pre-existing violation of subdivision mapping laws.
- Pre-existing violation of zoning ordinances.
- Pre-existing violation of conditions, covenants and restrictions affecting the land. The EAGLE Policy is our newest and most comprehensive coverage and covers all of the risks listed above
- Post-policy forgery against the insured interest.
- Forced removal of residential improvements due to lack of an appropriate building permit (subject to deductible).
- Post-policy construction of improvements by a neighbor onto insured land.
- Damage to residential structures from use of the surface of insured land for extraction or development of minerals.
What does that mean for sellers? Every day a property is on the market the price goes down in the minds of buyers. That is why a property sells at its highest price in the first days of exposure to the market. There is another reason for that fact. The buyers most ready to make an offer in the first days are the seasoned buyers who have been educated about the market by a REALTOR® and can act immediately because they have the cash or a mortgage pre-approval letter. If the price is too high initially, they move on and wait for another to come on the market. Sellers should therefore position their property to sell when it first hits the market.
As you select the graphs for your county, study the second page to see how many sellers have guessed wrong about their initial price positioning and are continuing to add more days on the market to their house. They are the ones in the two categories of "price changes" and "total unsold inventory." Also notice the number of those that failed to sell because of the price and became expired listings after many days on the market.
When buyers work with me, we discuss total days on the market as they contemplate an offer. When I am representing sellers, I assist them in understanding that first days of exposure usually generate the highest offering prices. When you or anyone you know needs advice on how today's market is working, please contact me.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Home ownership provides a wealth of opportunity. We all need to live somewhere! Investing in a home rather than throwing your money away on rent makes good sense. Although there’s no guarantee a particular home will appreciate year after year, history has shown home ownership to be a long term investment that builds wealth for most people. Not only can you live in the home while it helps your wealth grow, your own home offers pride of ownership and a secure sense of place in your community.
When it comes to buying a home, timing it right is up there with location as a key consideration. Catching a housing market in transition toward the buyer’s advantage—as it is in many areas today—can save you a lot of money or allow you to buy more home for your budget. Your buying power may never be greater than it is today.
Of course if you have been watching the Baltimore housing market you’ve been seeing sales prices leveling off or dropping and the inventory of homes for sale growing, that signals the presence of a buyer’s market. The real estate market today has come full circle. People thinking about purchasing a home don’t always take advantage of the transition markets. Some decide to wait and see whether prices and/or interest rates drop further—which may not happen. In fact, when a market moves toward the buyer’s advantage, in certain instances prices don’t drop at all—they simply stay at current levels. That’s still a great time to purchase a home—getting in before prices or rates start to rise again.
Buying a home now may make perfect sense for you. Consider the advantages of today’s market:
- Better Prices - With more homes on the market waiting for buyers, sellers don’t expect to see the appreciation rates to which they have grown accustomed. Some even drop their listing price below market value to attract attention and speed the sale in order to meet a moving deadline. Bidding wars and escalation clauses no longer threaten to take a home’s sales price beyond its true market value.
- Negotiating Advantage - In a buyer’s market, sellers must show more flexibility not only on price, but on the terms of the contract.
- More Choice - With more homes on the market, buyers don’t need to “take what they can get.” These days you can pick and choose from a variety of homes in the area. Search ALL homes listed in the Multiple List Service (MLS) on my website www.LivingMD.com.
- More Time To Choose - Since there are fewer people out there looking for homes compared with the number of homes for sale, buyers can take more time searching for appropriate candidates and comparing them. It often isn’t necessary to rush into a decision for fear the home might immediately slip away to another buyer within hours. However, we are all aware of Murphy’s Law, don’t wait too long. The home you are going home to think over tonight may be the same home someone thought about last night.
- Homes in Great Shape - When buyers are harder to come by, most competing sellers spend extra time and money preparing their home for the market. They make sure their homes are in tip-top shape before they hit the market. That means buyers often can move right in without the hassle or expense of repairs or improvements to update the home.
- Attractive Financing - As fewer buyers apply for new mortgages, mortgage lenders compete for business by offering more generous loan terms. Not only are interest rates still low by historical standards, buyers today can take advantage of offers including lower closing costs, waived fees, free rate locks, faster loan approval and speedier processing. As in recent years, of course, today’s mortgage industry offers a wide array of loan programs you can choose from to meet you particular financial needs and goals.
- Tax Savings - (Please be sure to verify this information with your accountant. Each individual circumstance varies.)
The sooner you purchase a home, the earlier you can take advantage of Uncle Sam’s generous mortgage interest tax deduction, which in effect subsidizes your payments—or shelters your income, depending on how you look at it. Tax law favors homeowners in a number of other ways too. You can take deduction for points paid on your mortgage loan, qualified home-office expenses, expenses associated with investment properties, and more. Finally, when you eventually sell your primary residence, you can qualify to keep up to $500,000 in profits tax free if you are married filing jointly, $250,000 if you are single. The recent addition of the $7,500 tax credit presents another opportunity to take advantage of the "American Dream".
Keep posted for more information on the tax credit and grants available to home buyers. Feel free to contact me personally with questions about buying a home, selling a home, home grants, or any other real estate question.
All my best,
Jennifer Bayne, Jbayne@cbmove.com