Archive for ‘For Buyers’

October 16, 2014

To Move or Improve?

 

remodeling

 

 

 

Are you considering renovating your existing home or starting completely over by moving? If you ask around, you’ll receive mixed opinions, but the ultimate decision is up to you (and perhaps your significant other). But how will you come to a decision? What criteria should you use to make a rational decision on whether to stay and renovate or pack up and move on?

 

 

Here’s some criteria to help you decide:

 

1.) How do you feel about your neighborhood?paper home

  • Is it a place you enjoy?
  • How well do you get along with your neighbors?
  • Would you miss your neighborhood community
  • Are you and your children happy with the local school district?
  • Is your neighborhood a good fit for you (and your family)?
  • You can always fix a house, but you can’t fix your neighborhood

 

 

2.) Is there an intangible quality to your house?

  • While not every house has significance beyond simply providing shelter, many do. Whether it is the age, design or historical quality, a home that has significance shouldn’t be subjected to the wrecking ball. Expanding, renovating and adapting homes of such value are sure ways to keep the significance alive for years to come.

 

 

 

3.) Does renovating make sense financially?moeny

  • There are a handful of factors to consider when it comes to the question of ‘How much will renovating cost?’. If you are renovating, there are going to be other costs. For example an associated cost could be temporary living quarters while your house is under construction.
  • However it can also cost money is you stay and you are in the way. Some contractors may charge more where clients stay because there will have to be additional cleanup on a daily basis, a rush for certain mechanical work (i.e. plumbing, electric), and even something as simple as socializing with the onsite homeowners (wasting time on the clock).
  • If you are planning on moving, there will be associated costs with purchasing your new home as well. Costs will include: realtor fees, decorating the new home, moving truck costs…..etc.
  • Determining whether to stay or move requires you to evaluate all the costs on both spectrums before making a decision.
  • This decision is best to determine with a contractor. If you have never been to a house that is under-going a remodel, you should so you can understand how much of your home/life will be affected by what you have planned.

 

 

4.) Does your existing house have a sturdy foundation?

  • Not every house is an ideal candidate for a renovation. While there might be a good reason to renovate an old historic barn that is full of family memories, a 20 year old house with a collapsing foundation or other significant defects would not be a good candidate. Therefore make sure you asses (either yourself or professionally), the bones of your house to see if the base of your home is structurally solid.

 

zoning5.) Are the new zoning restrictions going to affect your renovation plans?

  • Depending on the age of your house, the zoning restrictions may have been different during the time it was built.
  • While the house you currently reside in may fit you perfectly (due to the previous lenient restrictions), a new house in its place might not.
  • You should evaluate height/distance to property lines, yard dimensions…..etc., to see if saving the existing structure of the house is worth your while.

 

 

 

6.) Are you willing to have patience and fun with a renovation project…..even when it is not going well?

moneypit

  • Whether you are remolding or even building a custom home, you will have to make numerous decisions. Some of the major decisions include: size, budget and time frame. While some of the other decisions come down to minor details but are extremely important to the whole aesthetic and feel.
  • Make sure you keep your sense of humor. If you are considering renovating, you should watch The Money Pit. The dialogue is filled with classic lines, such as “two weeks” as the stock answer to the question about when the project will be finished. Just remember that renovations may not go as smoothly as planned, but that it’ll be all right in the end. So do your homework, trust in the professionals you’ve hired and enjoy the ride.

 

 

October 9, 2014

Maryland Ranks on Top 100 Best Places to Live

 

Livability.com recently came out with their second annual ranking for the Top 100 Best Places to Live 2015; small to mid-sized cities in the United States.  Some new places made list, some moved up or down and some continue to score well. Over 2,000 cities were ranked, so every city on the list is in the top 5% of livable communities in the United States. The criteria for ranking was based on 8 categories; amenities, demographics, economy, education, health care, housing, social & civic capital, and transportation. Of the 100 cities, 5 are located in Maryland; #19  Rockville, MD; #32 Frederick, MD; #42  Towson, MD;  #64 North Bethesda, MD; #72 Silver Spring, MD.


#19 City of Rockville, Maryland

map_of_rockville_md
-Rockville is located in Montgomery County, MD. Rockville has a population of 60,960, and a median home price is $481,700.

-There are 34 elementary schools in Rockville which are primarily served by Montgomery County Public School District. Parents who are looking for an alternative to public schools have the option of choosing from 44 private schools.

-Since Rockville is a great place to live, it also means it is a great place to work. The economy in Rockville is led by the Corporate, Subsidiary, and Regional Managing Offices industry. This city is also a great entrepreneurship community.

-Rockville residents are part of Montgomery County, which ranks 1st for health outcomes and 2nd for health factors out of the 24 counties within the State of Maryland.

 

 

#32 City of Frederick, Maryland
frederick- Frederick is located in Frederick County, MD. Frederick has a population of 65,171, and a median home price of $255,600.

- There are 40 elementary schools in Frederick which are primarily served by Frederick County Public School District. Parents who are
looking for an alternative have the choice of 26 private schools to choose from.

- The economy in Frederick is led by the Commercial Banking industry. This city is also a great entrepreneurship community.

- Frederick residents are part of Frederick County, which ranks 3rd for health outcomes and 3rd for health factors out of the 24 counties within the state of Maryland.

 

 

#42 City of Towson, Marylandmap_of_towson_md
-Towson is located in Baltimore County, Maryland. Frederick has a population of 55,811, and a median home price of $339,400.

- There are 31 elementary schools in Towson, which is primarily served by Baltimore County Public School District. Parents who are looking for an alternative to public schools have the option of choosing from 52 private schools. After high school, the University of Towson is a great choice for college.

- Towson residents have access to 69 acute care hospitals within 60 miles. Towson residents rank 14th for health outcomes and 12th for health factors out of the 24 counties within the state of Maryland.

 


#64 City of North Bethesda, Maryland

-North Bethesda is located in Montgomery County, MD. North Bethesda has a population of 42,894, and a median home price of $494,200.

- There are 28 elementary schools in North Bethesda. Parents who are looking for an alternative to public school have the choice of 54 private schools to choose from as well.

-The economy of North Bethesda is led by the Corporate, Subsidiary and Regional Managing Offices Industry. There are 116,634 business establishments in North Bethesda with fewer than 10 employees, which is a good indicator of the entrepreneurship community.

- North Bethesda residents are part of Montgomery County, which ranks 1st for health outcomes and 2nd for health factors out of 24 counties within the State of Maryland.

 


#72 Silver Spring, Maryland
silver spring
-Silver Spring, Maryland is located in Montgomery County. Silver Spring has a population of 74, 476, and a median home price of $453,900.

-There are 35 elementary schools in Silver Spring and 49 private schools.

- The economy of Silver Spring is led by the Corporate, Subsidiary and Regional Managing Offices Industry. There are 116,634 business establishments in Silver Spring with fewer than 10 employees, which is a good indicator of the entrepreneurship community.

- Silver Spring residents are part of Montgomery County, which ranks 1st for health outcomes and 2nd for health factors out of 24 counties within the State of Maryland. Residents have access to 61 acute care hospitals within 60 miles of Silver Spring.

 

 

 

Maryland is a great state to live in. Whether you are looking to relocate from another state or simply move to another town/city, our Real Estate Professionals at Homesale Realty are here to assist you every step of the way.

 

 

 

October 1, 2014

How to Prepare for Relocation

Are you relocating? Perhaps you are looking for a change of scenery or are taking on a new job. Either way, you want to be prepared when you make the big move. Here are a few tips to consider, and don’t forget your Homesale real estate professional will also be well equipped with knowledge if you have questions or concerns.

 

Oct 14 IOV - Ecard

September 29, 2014

Cleaning Projects

Cleaning ProjectsView in Piktochart

http://goo.gl/0bs627

September 25, 2014

Neighborhood Spotlight- Annapolis, MD

Main Street, Formerly Church Street, Annapolis, Maryland, USASource: http://www.expedia.com

Thinking about moving to Maryland? Anne Arundel County is known as “the land of pleasant living”, and has a diverse selection of neighborhoods and locations to choose from. The Chesapeake Bay area’s quality of life and rich history, makes Anne Arundel County a great place to live and work.

Situated on the Chesapeake Bay at the mouth of the Severn River, only a few miles away from Baltimore and Washington D.C., is Annapolis. There are three distinct regions of Annapolis and the Chesapeake Bay. Annapolis City, the State Capital of Maryland, is world-renowned as America’s Sailing Capital. The Annapolis Countryside, offers hundreds of miles of Chesapeake Bay Shoreline and a wide array of American history. Annapolis-Baltimore is home to Arundel Mills Mall, Maryland Casino and BWI Thurgood Marshall.

If you are considering moving, you should take a few days to explore your potential new town. Whether you are solo, moving with friends, a significant other or your family, here are a few ideas to get you acquainted with the new area.

 

 

Take a Day to Relax

Are you in the mood for little R&R? Have a spa day and get away from it all at the highly rated Robert Andrew The Salon and Spa. Take advantage of all their exclusive offerings and be sure to check out their “Zents-ability” services, which will leave you feeling calm and at peace.

 

121208-N-OA833-001

Have Fun with the Children

When it comes to family-friendly activities, there are a handful to choose from. A great idea is to check out the action with the various sports Annapolis has to offer. Get ready to start cheering on the Chesapeake Bayhawks Major League Lacrosse, Baltimore Ravens and U.S. Navy sports teams. Since it is football season, plan a trip to watch a U.S. Navy game, while also exploring what else Annapolis has to offer.

 

 

Source: http://navylive.dodlive.mil/

Go for a Walk 

If you thought Annapolis was all inner harbors and boats, you are dearly mistaken. The Annapolis Countryside region will open your eyes to numerous acres of historical land. Experience history, archaeology and horticulture on the Historic London Town & Gardens. The 23 acre park features reconstruction of colonial buildings, tours of national landmarks, an 8-acre woodland garden and 2 historic gardens.

 

Shop until you Drop

Even if you come to Annapolis to enjoy the water, take in the history or simply appreciate the surrounding beauty, is it easy to make shopping part of the experience…..or the entire experience. Annapolis is filled with boutique shopping, convenient malls and town centers, and the largest outlet mall in Maryland, Arundel Mills Mall.

 

 

blackwallhitch

 

Wine & Dine

Stop by one of the town’s newest restaurants in Eastport, called Blackwall Hitch. It gives off an “urban chic” ambiance. Inside includes an oyster bar, two large dining areas, several private dining rooms, rooftop dining space, and a private VIP room, called “The Living Room”. The restaurant serves modernized American cuisine, while accommodating plates for seafood lovers as well.

 

 

 

Real Estate Overview

With a desirable combination of highly rated school, low crime, and historic locations, Annapolis fits the features that families look for when choosing a good community to raise children. If you’re interested in buying a home in Annapolis, please contact one of our local real estate professionals.

 

 

September 22, 2014

Short Sale: 5 Mistakes to Avoid

 

A short sale occurs when a property is sold at a price less than the amount the homeowner owes on the mortgage, and the homeowner’s mortgage lender(s) agrees to the “short” payoff. A lender may accept a short sale with the property worth less than the balance of the mortgage if: the borrower is no longer financially capable to make the monthly loan payment, does not have enough money to pay back the full balance of loan and needs to move out of the property.

Purchasing a home on a short sale can be beneficial to the buyer and seller. A home seller avoids foreclosure and the consequences that go along with a foreclosure, which will allow for an easier transition into more affordable housing. A buyer avoids the risk of buying a foreclosed property and receives a fair market value on the home.

 

If you are considering purchasing a short sale home, take precaution and make sure you avoid these 5 common mistakes:

 

1.) Ignoring property problems

green carpet

Short sellers are motivated to sell and repair their credit, so they will most likely fill out a property condition disclosure form. However, there is the possibility that the seller may not have thoroughly followed through on essential maintenance to the roof, furnace, air conditioner, hot water heater, etc. Also, since the seller is in a bit of a financial bind, it is most likely the home has not seen a cosmetic face lift for a number of  years.

 

 

 

2.) Skipping the home inspection

approved

As the potential buyer, you should make time to tag along on the home inspection of the short sale home. This is the time where the house is open for all criticism and questions. By drawing attention to questionable items/problems within the house, you may be able drop the price of thehome due to renovations. Also do not forget to ask about repair estimates when an inspector records a problem because homeowners typically underestimate the true cost of renovations.

If you are interested in purchasing a short sale home, you may want to consider doing an inspection on the property before you make an offer. A preoffer inspection allows potential buyers to walk away and find a better investment.

 

3.) Ignoring legal and insurance information

A typical disclosure statement would specify if a house was in a flood plain or had an unpermitted renovations. Bank-owned properties often sell “as is” without disclosure, buyers need to do extra research on the home’s status. Make sure that all renovations have been permitted and approved.

 

4.) Leaving too little time for closing

Short sale homebuyers need to be aware that the sale won’t necessarily close as quickly as it would for a traditional home. The seller’s lender must grant approval of the short sale price. Sometimes legal troubles can influence closing. For example, a buyer could wait months on a bank-owned property while the bank continually pushes back the close date due to unresolved liens.

 

5.) Having your mind set on a bad home

Consider the house’s condition, inspection, price and value dispassionately. Now ask yourself these three common sense questions.thinking-man

 

  • If you were to buy this property, could you afford to rent it out for as much as, or less than, your mortgage payment?
  • What if the home’s value drops another 20% percent, will you still feel confident in your purchase?
  • How much money are you willing to invest into the property (if necessary)?

Some homebuyers do not want to listen to inspectors because they believe it is their house already and they love it, even if there is a slope in the floor or cracks on the basement walls.

 

In the end, if you are in the market for a new home and are considering a short sale home, avoid the five mistakes above. Remember your Homesale Agent is here to guide you through the process by providing you with thorough information and keeping your best interest at the top of their priorities.

 

September 11, 2014

Open Houses: Are you asking the right questions?

 

open house2

open house

Are you in the Market for a New Home?

If so, then it’s a good idea to find yourself a buyer’s agent.  A buyer’s agent will always look out for your best interests and will provide you with the most up-to-date information about homes that fit your criteria.  However, you’ll still want to be sure to ask the right questions and take the right precautions while attending an open house, let alone making an offer to purchase.  If you play your cards rights, an open house can tell you a lot more about a property than its floor plan or what the current residents consider to be “clean”. The key is asking the right questions, or making sure your agent is asking them for you.

To help you determine if the house you are viewing has the potential to become your home; here are some items (exterior and interior) you should be asking questions about….

 

Roof:  A leaky chimney can cause all types of problems, which can be costly to repair. Leaks around the chimney are not always evident right away, but they can cause serious structural damage if ignored. When moisture enters the roofing, attic, and possibly the ceiling areas, it causes wood rot, roof damage and dry wall damage.  Therefore you’ll want to ask; if/ when the roof was replaced, what kind of shingles are on the roof and how many layers of shingles. You’ll also want to look for flashing around the chimney if there is one.

 chimneySource: http://www.aardvarkair.com/chimney-services/

 

Gutters: Where the downpipes are located, where they drain to, and how far away they drain from the home (should be about 4-5 feet depending on drainage and terrain).

 

 

Foundation: What kind of material is used (stone, block, poured concrete)? Look for wetness, discoloration on the foundation walls, as well as any support beams that might indicate previous standing water.  Also look to see how straight the walls are; there should not be any bowing or movement.

foundationSource: http://foundationrepairshop.com/


Plumbing:  (in basement, under sinks in kitchen and bathroom) check the water pressure; look for discoloration from minerals in the water (“hard” water), look for wetness or dampness, leaks.

 

 

Heating:  You’ll want to know the energy source for the heating system and how long ago it was installed. You might even be able to find out the sellers’ average monthly heating cost.  During the home inspection they should test the heat output to make sure the entire house is getting heat and there are no blockages.  Check for multiple thermostats and whether the home is split into zones for individual temperature control.

 

 

Electrical: Make sure you know where the circuit breakers are located; you’ll want at least 150 to 200 amps.  The electrical box should be neat and the wires should be in good condition (no fraying, striped wires, etc.).  Also, there should be electrical collars (little fittings that keep the wire from shifting) at the entrance of each and every wire to the box (not necessarily a big deal, but it indicates poor work and potential electrical problems)

circuit breakerSource: http://completeelectrical.biz/electricity-101-what-is-a-circuit-breaker/

 

 

Floors and Ceilings: Check ceilings for water marks or discoloration.  Check floors for bowing or movement as you walk (indicates poor support from the floor below).  Ask if/when the floors were replaced?

bowingSource: http://www.wikihow.com/Locate-a-Leak-and-Repair-a-Buckled-Wood-Floor

 

 

Doors and Windows: Check windows and doors, specifically how well they seal to the outside. Even though a door may close, it may not seal tight enough to keep your heat inside and the cold air out.

 

 

***Other things to consider are gas/oil leases for the property, and any right-of-ways on the property or to get to the property.  You’ll also want to check ceiling heights on each level and in the basement, as well as door heights and widths.

September 8, 2014

Lancaster City : A month packed of events

Although summer is coming to an end, there is still plenty of fun to be had and memories to be made with the numerous events scheduled throughout September in Lancaster, PA. Whether you are looking for things to do in your hometown or considering moving to Lancaster (or a nearby town), make sure you check out some of these events!

 

September 12th-26th : Wine on the Vine – ON DECK

grandviewdeckSource: The Vineyard at Grandview Facebook 

Location: The Vineyard at Grandview (Mount Joy, PA)

Details: Come enjoy live music every Friday night from 6-8:30pm on the beautiful deck.

 

September 12th: Astronomy

betterastronomySource: twanight.org

Location: Lancaster County Parks Environmental Center

Details: A nighttime star watch conducted by Astronomy enthusiasts.

 

September 12th: Taste the World Walking and Sampling Tour

taste of the world

Location: Downtown Lancaster (24 E King Street)

Details: Theme – Seafood. Join a fun filled evening of walking and sampling delicious dishes in downtown Lancaster. Where else can you try Haitian stewed conch, Cajun seafood bread, Italian tuna pasta salad, Asian crab Rangoon, Greek calamari lemonato, Southern pan-fried swai, plus a French dessert, all in one meal?

 

September 13th: Wool Frolic at Landis Valley

Photo by Carla FontaineSource: welcome-to-lancaster-county.com

Location: Landis Valley Village & Farm

Details: A celebration of fiber arts, demonstrations on yard dying, knitting, crocheting, spinning, weaving and bobbin lace making, hands-on kids’ activities and much more.

 

September 18th: Velocity – Celebrating a city moving forward

velocitySource: velocitylancaster.com 

Location: Tellus360 6-10pm

Details: Celebrate the City of Lancaster with local food tastings, live performances, galley exhibitions, a fashion show, VIP rooftop party with open bar. It is going to be quite a party – a chance to grab your friends for an evening of mingling, eating, drinking, shopping, dancing and entertainment.

 

September 19th: Music Friday

music fridaySource: Instagram User – jaredmerb

Location: Binns Park

Details: Every third Friday of every month, live music abounds throughout City shops, restaurants and City parks. Plus the concerts are all FREE.

 

September 20th: Market Lights Up The Night (125 years in the making)

centralmarketSource: centralmarketlancaster.com 

Location: Lancaster Central Market 6:30-11pm

Details: A fundraising gala like none other you have experienced. The night will be filled with live music, an open bar and live/silent auctions.

 

September 27th: Annie Bailey’s 7th Annual Guinness Oyster Fest

anniebaileysSource: figlancaster.com/magazine (Fall 2014 p.6)

Location: Annie Bailey’s Traditional Irish Pub & Restaurant

Details: This is an all-day event and the biggest oyster fest in Lancaster City. There will be 1,500 east and west coast oysters, music and festivities throughout the day.

 

August 28, 2014

The Rent Trap

 

If you are currently renting, you could get caught in the continuous cycle of increased rents, without realizing the long-term impact on your future ability to save for a down payment. Purchasing a for-sale home still remains highly affordable for buyers who are able to save for a down payment and capitalize on low mortgage interest rates. Unfortunately, for current renters, as monthly rents continue to rise , along with interest rates and home values, saving for a down payment and attaining homeownership becomes that much more difficult for them.
house-trap

 

Zillow Press Release Synopsis

The affordability of the nation’s rental inventory is currently much worse than the affordability of the home sale inventory. Nationally, renters who signed lease agreements at the end of June (beginning of July) will pay 29.5% of their income towards rent. In comparison, U.S. home buyers at the end of June (second quarter) could actually expect to pay 14.3% less of their total income towards their mortgage.

 

What are the options?

While you may already have enough saved for the purchase of your first home; many Millennials are skeptical about their ability to own a home. Housingwire recently reported: “It’s not that Millennials and other potential buyers aren’t qualified in terms of their credit scores or in how much they have saved for their down payment. It’s that they think they are not qualified or they think they don’t have a big enough down payment.”

There are many factors as to why one would be apprehensive about applying for a mortgage, whether it’s due to student debt or other financial limitations. The reality is, applying for a mortgage, no matter how great the credit score is, is uncomfortable for some people. With all the chatter making its way out of the trade space, the average buyer may be left misinformed about their own financial capability. The good news…. the credit box has actually expanded and the credit requirements are not as bad as one would think. Housingwire reported, 1 in 5 borrowers who took out conforming, conventional mortgages put down 10% or less this year.

The biggest problem is that many potential buyers are sidelining themselves. They do not want the embarrassment of a rejection, so they either stick with their apartment or remain in a house they have outgrown.

 

Be Proactive

Don’t lose sight of your future and get caught in this renters’ trap. If you believe you are ready to purchase a home, be proactive and find out if you are financially ready and when the time is right move forward…..don’t sideline your own dreams!

 

 

 

 

August 21, 2014

Financial Benefits of Homeownership

 

Which is a better option, renting or buying a home?  This question is difficult to answer and depends on one’s current financial situation.  However, it is important to note that homeownership does come with major financial rewards that are not applicable to renters.

 

1.) A Leveraged Investment

Owning a home allows a homeowner to increase any appreciation on the value of their home by a leveraging factor. Even a substantial 20% down payment results in a leveraging factor of 5 so that every percentage point in the value of the home is a 5% return on the equity. With the average buyer putting 10% or less down, their leveraging factor is 10 or more.  Every month the mortgage is paid, the reduction from the mortgage increases the amount of equity. Plus with equity from your home, you would be able to pay for college, retirement or other major life events.


2.) Rent or own, you are still paying

It makes a lot more sense to invest your money in something you own, than it does to pay a landlord. Homeowners pay financial institutions to reduce their own principal, while renters pay to reduce the principal for their landlord.


3.) “Forced Savings”

Owning a home tends to change the perspective many people have on saving money…spend now, save later. Owning a home means more financial responsibility, which encourages smarter saving and spending habits.

piggy

 

 

4.) Tax benefits of owning

As a homeowner, you will be able to deduct mortgage interest and property taxes from your annual income taxes. Plus capital gains (up to $250k for single filers and $500k for married couples) are excluded if you sell your home for a gain.


5.) Owning protects from inflation

Housing costs and rents tend to increase over time at a faster pace than the rate of inflation. This makes owning a home a more attractive option.


6.) Mortgage Rates

Over the past 30 years, mortgage rates have been decreasing, which means a decrease in your monthly payment.

Historic Mortgage Rates by Decade

 

Local real estate markets, your financial status, as well as personal needs and goals will all affect your housing decision. Homeownership makes sense for many people due to an assortment of personal and social reasons, but it also makes sense financially. Consult a local real estate professional to help guide you to happy and responsible living.

 

 

 

 

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