Archive for ‘For Buyers’

June 19, 2014

Renting vs Buying

Couple Front StepsIf you are a potential buyer searching for the perfect place to live, your gut reaction is probably that it is cheaper to rent a home than it is to buy one. However, according to Trulia’s chief economist Jed Kolko, that is not the case. On average in the United States, it is 38 percent cheaper to buy a home than it is to rent one. Of course, this varies from state to state.

 

Of course, while the base cost of buying a home is cheaper than renting one, there are many other factors to be looked at before deciding between the two. Are you looking to stay somewhere for an extended period of time, or will you be living there for less than 10 years?

 

Upkeep is also something to consider while looking for a place to live. On paper the cost of buying a house may be lower, but overall it actually may be less expensive to rent if you have to continually have maintenance work done.

 

Renting also has the upper hand for people looking for jobs. If you are still moving around the job market or do not have a stable long-term position, it is likely more financially responsible to rent a house so that you are able to move if necessary. However, if you are looking to settle down somewhere, in the long run it looks as though it is more profitable to buy a house rather than rent one.

June 10, 2014

House Hunting Tips

Couple House RealtorIdeally, we’d all love for house hunting to be a quick and easy process that results in the perfect home. Unfortunately not all homes come equipped with a two-story pool and a waterfall, so this is not always the case. Here are some things to keep in mind when trying to find a place that fits all of your needs.

 

Don’t Choose a House for its Awesome Bathtub

Sometimes it can be easy to overlook certain important details—like those dubious mold spots on the ceiling—in favor of a flashy new granite countertop that the owner will be certain to emphasize. When looking at potential houses, keep in mind the difference between the things you need and the things that it would be nice to have. While it can be exciting to find the perfect cabinet handles, make sure you consider them a bonus and not a priority.

 

Living Next Door to a Prison

Location is one of the most important things to consider while looking for your new home. How far is the house from your job or prospective jobs? How far away is the nearest grocery store? What is the neighborhood like? Who are your neighbors? Visit the house at different times of the day to see what changes. Even the house of your dreams can turn into the house of your nightmares if you live next door to a sewage plantation, so it is important to take these things into consideration when you feel like you have found the perfect house.

 

Play Detective

Don’t be afraid to be slightly nosey when it comes to looking for your new home. Remember that you are going to be living there, so it’s important that the house fits all of your needs. Check the cupboards, the closet space, and inside every door. Lift rugs and look under furniture. Try to envision your own possessions in the space and even measure areas to be certain everything fits. While not a deal breaker, it might be upsetting to find out after you move that your vintage bookshelf is taller than the ceiling.

 

It’s Not NASCAR

A common mistake made when house hunting is trying to rush through the process. Whether it’s because it was pushed it off until last minute or because they chose the first decent house presented to them, many people end up with houses not suited to their needs. Take the time to make a checklist of the most important things that you are looking for in a home, and then take the list to each tour. This way while you are making sure that every house has room for your fish tank, you won’t forget that your youngest son needs a bedroom.

While keeping these things in mind, however, remember to relax and enjoy yourself. House hunting is an exciting time full of potential and possibilities for your future, so have fun!

May 7, 2014

Why Use a Realtor?

Are you considering buying or selling a home?  A real estate transaction is most often one of the largest financial decisions that you will make in your lifetime.  It is important to work with someone who has the knowledge and experience to guide you through the real estate process.  Check out the Top 10 Reasons to Hire a Real Estate Agent:

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AskHomesale.com provides real estate advice and information for home buyers, home sellers, and homeowners alike. Askhomesale.com is part of the Prudential Homesale Family. The Homesale Family of Companies is the leading real estate company serving the Baltimore, Maryland, South Central and Southeastern PA real estate markets.  Prudential Homesale has more than 25 offices with over 1,000 REALTORS®. Prudential Homesale’s footprint includes Maryland real estate offices in Baltimore CityFederal HillFells PointWestminsterand Timonium.  Pennsylvania real estate offices include YorkLancasterWyomissingChambersburgGettysburgHarrisburgand Schuylkill Haven.

Tips for Home Buyers  |  Tips for Home Sellers | Tips for Homeowners

April 14, 2014

Neighborhood Spotlight- Ellicott City, MD

Thinking about moving to Maryland? Howard County has a diverse selection of neighborhoods and locations to choose from. Ellicott City is a popular choice and after reading this, your interest may be increased. Voted #8 on the best places to live charts, Ellicott City offers the best of both worlds — a charming, historic downtown with plenty of restaurants and a thoughtfully laid-out, planned community with tons of stores.

Take a Day to Relax
Have a spa day and get away from it all at The Spa Turf Valley. Take advantage of the “Total Indulgence” package that includes a facial, massage, body treatment, and lunch. A good value for all that’s included that will leave you completely stress-free.

Have Fun with the Childrenellicott city

If you are looking for an educational and fun outing to experience with the children, then the B&O Railroad Museum near Ellicott City may be your best bet. Offering a wide selection of activities throughout the museum, young children will be able to sit in authentic antique rail cards, and for older kids, they can be entertained by the roundhouse of full antique trains and real train cars that they can enter.

Go for a Walk at the Park

Scientific studies have found that walking is good for your health. Benefits include improved immune system function, lowered blood pressure, and better feeling of overall health. Patapsco Valley State Park is a great place to spend with your family and it’s “nationally known for its trail opportunities and scenery.”

Shop until you Drop

Wind River Classic is a national outlet in Ellicott City that features women designer samples and major retailer overstock at 60% off or more regular retail.

Have a Sweet Tooth?

Stop into Old Mill Bakery Café for fun and tasty treats. From baked goods to coffee, the whole family will love this shop.

Wine & Dine

Looking to fine dine for date night? Portalli’s Italian Restaurant is an exceptional restaurant located in historic Ellicott City that offers a mixture of traditional Italian dishes and Italian-inspired dishes.

Real Estate Overview

With a desirable combination of good schools, low crime, college-educated neighbors, Ellicott City really has some of the features that families look for when choosing a good community to raise children. If you’re interested in buying a home in Ellicott City, please contact one of our local real estate professionals.

April 7, 2014

Credit Karma

For many of you, the thought of buying a home raises some financial concerns such as CreditKarmagetting pre-approved and affording the down payment. Getting pre-approved is often based off your debt-to-income ratio, your credit score, work history, etc. Take note, that just because you pay everything on time, doesn’t necessarily mean that your credit score is perfect. It is important to have a sense of where your credit stands; check out creditkarma.com to find out.

CreditKarma.com provides you with a free credit score; no credit card required. By creating a free account and becoming a Credit Karma member, you will have safe and secure access to four different credit scores including your TransUnion Credit Score, Vantage Score, Auto Insurance Score, and Home Insurance Score. This system also includes a simulator that allows you to plug in variables and see how your credit score may be affected.

Staying up-to-date on your credit score and working to continuously improve it, will keep you on track so you know when buying a home is right for you.

March 31, 2014

Before you Buy…

before you buyThe home you found might appear to have the right features and price but before you make an offer there are some other factors you should consider.

Sometimes when we want something so badly, we might not always ask the questions we should. Since this is one of the largest financial investments most of us will make in a lifetime, taking a step back and having one more look is probably a good idea.

Have you considered the items below?

  *Have an Inspection – Most homes have a defect; some are obvious, most are fixable. Knowing what could potentially need fixed can help you negotiate a better price now. Inspections for lead paint, radon, and pests are also strongly recommended.
* Ask for utility bills – Homes with high ceilings or glass walls might just break your monthly heating/cooling budget and maintaining a beautiful, but elaborate landscape could cause your water bill to skyrocket. All of these should be considered in your monthly expenses.
* Is there an Association? – An association that will keep lawns mowed in summer or walks shoveled in winter could be a very nice perk. As association that organizes community functions also shows that the residents care about their neighborhood.
* Talk to Neighbors – It might be nice to know how many residents are homeowners versus renters.
* Visit at various times – A seemingly quiet street now may be noisy during morning or evening rush hours. The school across the street may appear quiet over the summer but that could change during the school year.
* Look through newspaper archives – Do a little research to see if the area you are considering has any “skeletons” in its closet. Is it prone to water contamination problems or are their future plans to run a power line through your back yard? It pays to be informed.
* Examine taxes closely – Don’t just ask to see the current tax bills, but look at past bills as well. Does this municipality re-appraise homes frequently, leading to increased taxes? Is the local school funded by property taxes? This could be another cause for tax increases.
* Check with City Hall – Check into the property and neighborhood zoning. Also look for any easements or liens that may be connected to this property. Your realtor can help you with the research.
* Reconsider the “options” – Do you really need the in-ground pool? Can you afford the costs to maintain it? Can you live with just a one-car garage or on-street parking? Consider these items again before you buy.
* Explore – Get to know the area around the home. Are you close to an airport or fire station where noise could be a factor at all hours of the day and night? Is the home close to an agricultural area where smells or airborne dust could cause problems? Look beyond the streets of the neighborhood for other potential “deal-breakers”.

Try your best to be impartial and un-emotional when re-evaluating the home. This may be hard to do, but you will be glad that you took the extra time and put just a little more thought into it.

Your home purchase should fill you with joy, excitement, and happiness;
not leave you with buyer’s remorse!

March 18, 2014

Thinking About Buying a Foreclosed Home?

Purchasing a foreclosed home is quite different from buying a foreclosure signtypical resale. A foreclosed home is the process by which a homeowner’s rights to a property are forfeited because of failure to pay the mortgage.

The home you found might appear to be the right price and be in tip top shape, but before you purchase make sure to take some of these suggestions into consideration.

Reconsider Auctions – This process has many risks; prospective buyers aren’t able to do thorough home inspections or stay informed of outstanding taxes owed on the property before making the purchase.

Budget your Funds– Just because the price seems low to you now, doesn’t mean that something can’t be expected later. With low payments, this gives you a chance to really save your money.

Purchase Through a Bank – It might be better to go through a bank to purchase a foreclosed home. Banks are required to handle and pay off any back taxes  and you will be able to inspect the home before purchasing.

Inspect the Home & Neighborhood Thoroughly! – Answer these questions and record your findings when conducting your inspection:

How is the neighborhood?

How long has the house been empty?

How is the landscaping of the home and neighboring homes?

Was the house winterized?

Really take time and think about what your best options are. Are you prepared for the obstacles that could arise when purchasing a foreclosed home? If so consider these suggestions and do your research. 

“Really good deals on these bank-owned, they go quick — and the buyer doesn’t necessarily have time to try to work out the financing afterward. They need to work that out first.” – Jenson

March 11, 2014

One Last Look…

Once you’ve found your dream home, the financing is approved, and all inspections are completed, many buyers are tempted to sit back, relax, and wait for closing day.  There is one more very important step in the home buying process, a final walk-through.

This is the last chance to make sure everything is in working condition and that things are as they were presented in the deal.  If not, you still have time to have them repaired or you could even walk away.  Taking time now to check on the home could help save you time and money on costly repairs in the future.

Here are some things to look for: final walkthrough

Major Systems – Turn on the heat and the air conditioning as soon as you get there.  This will give it time to run so you should notice a temperature change.  Make sure you are hearing more than just the fan running.

Plumbing – Take the time to turn on every faucet and shower.  Do they drip?  Is there good water pressure?  Take a look in the basement and below sinks for any possible leaks.  Also flush all toilets to insure they work properly and are not leaking.

Repairs – Some repairs or upgrades may be required per the terms of your contract.  Check that the seller has taken care of these items and they have been done properly.  Don’t be afraid to mention something that has not been completed. 

Appliances – Turn on the dishwasher, the oven (light and fan too), washing machine, clothes dryer, and any other major appliance that is part of the home, to make sure they all work.

Landscaping – Take a stroll around the exterior of the home and the entire yard.  Believe it or not, some sellers have actually taken outside plants/shrubs with them.  Make sure nothing is missing.  If there is an irrigation system, check that it works.

Remotes/Keypads – If the home is equipped with a security system, does the keypad work?  If there are ceiling fans with remote controls, make sure the seller did not accidentally pack them.

Lights – Check that all lights and switch plates are in place.  A seller may forget to mention that they intend on taking a certain light fixture, etc.  Be sure that everything you expecting is in its proper place.

Walls – Take a look at walls and ceilings for any holes or damage that may have occurred while the seller was moving out. 

Cleanliness – Sellers are required to leave the home clean and free of their possessions.  Make sure the garage, yard, and any outbuildings are empty and clean.  You don’t want to find yourself responsible for the disposal of something large or even hazardous.

You may have had a professional inspection performed, but you should be just as diligent on your final walk-through.  Use this opportunity for more than planning furniture placement, check these important items first and then enjoy planning your move. FYI, another good idea to consider is the purchase of a home warranty.  This will give you a little extra peace of mind and will take care of any costly repairs for major system issues, appliance break-downs, etc. that might occur after you move in. 

February 27, 2014

How to Choose the Right Real Estate Agent

Buying or selling your home can be emotional endeavor, but with the help of a dedicated and dependable real estate agent, it can be an enjoyable and peaceful process. There are many aspects that you must consider when trying to choose the agent that is right for you. By following some of these simple guidelines, you will be heading in the right direction for a successful real estate experience.

Research & Record Your ResultsReal Estate

This cannot be stressed enough.  Referrals from family and friends are great but we still encourage you to do your research.  Go to open houses and watch an agent in action; this will help you see them in a professional and casual setting.  Another suggestion is to drive around the neighborhoods in your market place and see which agents and companies dominate the area.   Make a list of your top choices for a Realtor and Google them.  In that list, record the pros and cons from online reviews, ratings, testimonials, etc. 

Schedule Interviews & Ask Questions

This is the biggest step in the process. Keep in mind that as a seller, top agents will market your home on multiple websites and social media.  As a buyer, they will notify you as homes that meet your criteria enter the market. Find out how the agent will keep you updated and represent you during negotiations.  There are hundreds of questions you could ask, but remember to separate the good, better, and best agents by comparing the answers you get to your questions.

Lay Down your Laws with Some Simple Guidelines

Real estate transactions consist of fine details that can be missed and disrupt the whole process if you don’t have the right agent in your corner. Communication is a key aspect and you must stress that your agent needs to be available via email or phone, whichever is preferred.   Set realistic goals and stress that you and your agent must work as a productive team.

When it comes to buying or selling your home, finding the right real estate professional makes the difference!

February 6, 2014

Moving Day Etiquette, Mind Your Manners

blog feb 5Moving is a hassle, no matter how much you pack, plan, and prepare for the big day.  You will most likely hit a few bumps along the way!  It is highly recommended that you use a checklist to help you survive this arduous task.

Aside from being organized for the actual move, you also need to take into consideration those around you who will also be affected that day.  Like your mother always said, “mind your manners”.  Here are some etiquette guidelines:

Time of Day – The most recommended moving time slot is between 9am and 4pm on a weekday if possible.  During this time most neighbors will be away at work, therefore reducing any inconvenience to them.  Also remember to keep noise level low; do not allow movers to blare music from the moving van, etc.

Last Impression – Make sure the last moments spent in your old neighborhood are good ones.  Be careful not to block driveways and streets with vehicles or furniture.  Keep an eye on the moving crew; some will take short cuts they shouldn’t, through yards, flower beds, etc.  Be considerate of others!

First Impression – The same consideration described above should also be given to your new neighbors!  If you see that the moving truck will be blocking a neighbor’s access, knock on the door, introduce yourself, and explain the situation to them.  Apologize in advance for any inconvenience!  Be readily available if something needs to be moved.

Help – Don’t just sit around and watch or give orders.  Roll up your sleeves and help out, even if you have paid movers.  You can always start unpacking boxes in your new home, be busy!

Refreshments – Offer some basic refreshments to your trusty “crew”, whether it be a group of hired pros or your family and friends.  Provide some snacks, as well as some refreshing bottles of water and sodas; consider offering coffee or hot chocolate if you are moving during colder weather.

Clean up – Once your old home is vacant, take time to clean up any trash, vacuum, dust, and leave it in presentable condition.  Also make a trip around the exterior, cleaning up any debris left behind from the move.  The same holds true for your new home keep an eye out for trash or debris that may be left outside.  Clean it up immediately so your neighbors don’t have to.  Also try to avoid leaving a large trash pile by the curb for pick up. Instead, make a trip to the dump to dispose of these items.

Pets – If possible, take them to the home of a friend or family member, vet, or pet daycare.  If not possible, keep them comfortable in a room away from the noise and commotion.  Pets can become agitated and noisy during a move.  The risk of them getting out and getting lost is also higher during a move.

Thank you – Don’t forget to tip and say “thank you”.  For paid movers it is generally 5% of the total bill.  If using family and friends, show your gratitude by buying a few pizzas for dinner and saying thanks.  People like to feel appreciated.

How you handle yourself on moving day goes a long way in determining what type of relationship you will have with your new neighbors.  Make sure you get started on the right foot!

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