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How to Find a Home Online

Crofton MD Real Estate Q&A

Q. I’d like to begin my home search online, but there are so many real estate websites.  Where should I start?

A. You’re right, there are probably thousands of websites offering home listings.  The good news is this: the data for most of them is gleaned from the local MLS listing so the information is essentially the same, no matter where you find it.  But why not go straight to the source…


MRIS is the regional multiple listing service used by REALTORS in the greater Crofton area and much of the Middle Atlantic Region. is the public version of MRIS, and you can count on it to be up-to-date and consistent with the information available to agents using MRIS. 


If you click on the agent’s contact information for more information about the property, you will be reaching out to the listing agent WHO REPRESENTS THE SELLER’S BEST INTEREST, not yours.

My suggestion:  Look to for up-to-date listing information, but contact YOUR BUYER AGENT for more information.  It is your buyer-agent’s job to represent your best interests in your home search and purchase.

Real Estate Company Websites: Long and Foster and most other large real estate firms have their own websites and a home search feature.  One special feature you’ll find on Long & Foster’s website is a Foreclosure Search, if that interests you. 

Non-traditional real estate websites such as have some of the best mobile apps available, but the listing information is not always up-date.

One feature of Zillow that I do like is real estate agent reviews posted by consumers. Perhaps that’s because my reviews are pretty good, but really… where else are you going to find unedited testimonials directly from other home buyers and sellers? Simply click on the link at the top of the page for “Professionals” and then type in the name of an agent you’re considering.  If you don’t have an agent in mind, type in the zipcode where you’re looking and check out the agents who have at least 3 or 4 reviews.

Agent websites are another option you may want to consider for your online home search, such as this one at  If you’re already working with an agent, check their website for a home search; if you’re not working with an agent yet, please feel free to use the home search on my website at your own pace and convenience.  There’s no registration required unless you request email updates for new listings.  Again, you can count on up-to-date information on most agent websites – and for sure on mine.

While you may find a home online, the Internet cannot represent your best interests in a real estate transaction.  That’s your agent’s job.  Choosing the right real estate agent has never been more important than it is in today’s market… but that’s a subject for another day. 

For answers to your real estate questions, please click on the contact tab at the top of this page and give me a call or send an email. 


Posted by Margaret Woda | Discussion: Comments Off on How to Find a Home Online

Do You Know a Military Family in the Crofton Area?

If you know any Crofton area military families, please share this with them.  The information may apply to them or someone they know.

Sign - SaleMany military families have avoided severe financial hardship and loss by using the DoD HAP Program when military orders forced them to relocate at a time their home value was less than the outstanding home loan balance  In fact, the program had paid 4,825 applicants a total of $725.5 million, as of February 23, 2011, to help fill the gap between the housing debt and home value of military home sellers at the time of sale. Unfortunately, HAP had a backlog of 4,897 eligible applicants at that time.

Holly Petraeus said, in the Stars and Stripes, that the extra $550 million Congress appropriated to expand HAP has been used and no more military families are getting that special help.  As head of the Office of Service Member Affairs in the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), she probably knows what she’s talking about – but I sure hope she’s wrong, and so do the many military families with applications currently pending (not to mention all the “eligible” military families who haven’t yet applied for HAP benefits).

Worrying about financial devastation is the last thing military personnel and their families should be worrying about, and HAP has helped to resolve this concern for many families. I think we all owe it to them to help get out the word that they have an opportunity until January 23, 2012 to comment on the IG report on DoD HAP.  Let’s help make the response overwhelming, so the Feds know how many people are impacted by the DoD HAP Program.

If you or someone you know has PCS orders, I’ll help you find out if you’re eligible to use DoD HAP benefits for selling your home in the greater Crofton area.  Military personnel who are NOT eligible for HAP can contact me to find out if Fannie Mae’s six month military forbearance program, the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternative (HAFA), or the VA Compromise Sale may be good options.



Posted by Margaret Woda | Discussion: Comments Off on Do You Know a Military Family in the Crofton Area?

8 Ideas for Down Payment and Closing Costs


Q.  How can I take advantage of today’s great interest rates and home prices to buy a home in the Crofton area, when I can’t sell my current home in Northern Virginia?

A.  If your housing needs have changed, welcome to the club. That’s a perfectly normal situation that has motivated home sellers and buyers for decades.

P8060074In today’s market, it’s not always easy (or even possible) to sell one residence and use the equity to purchase another. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’re trapped forever in a home that no longer fits your shrinking or growing household… not if you can rent that home for enough to cover your monthly mortgage payment. 

Have you considered these other options for your down payment and closing costs?

Don’t assume you can’t get a Conventional loan with minimal down payment.  95% loans are making a comeback in the marketplace, and some well-qualified buyers are taking advantage of them to avoid the high FHA insurance.

If your housing needs have changed, you aren’t necessarily trapped in your current home by today’s struggling real estate market.  This may be perfect timing for you to make a move.

Not certain this is the right time to buy or sell a home? I’ve helped thousands of Maryland home buyers and sellers, and I’d be glad to share my experience with you.  Contact me today or click on the computer icon to search for homes at your own pace and convenience.  No cost or obligation to you.

Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.

Posted by Margaret Woda | Discussion: Comments Off on 8 Ideas for Down Payment and Closing Costs

Lower Closing Costs for Teachers

Classrrom4Are you a public school teacher in Bowie or anywhere in Prince George’s County, Maryland?  If so, your closing costs for the purchase a home in the County will be lower than your neighbors.

Prince George’s County offers a reduction in the County Transfer Tax from 1.4% to 1% when a teacher purchases improved residential property to use as a principal residence.  If there are two or more buyers, only one of them must be a Prince George’s County classroom teacher and occupy the property to be eligible.

If you happen to also be a first-time buyer in Maryland, your share of the .5% state transfer tax will also be waived.

Your savings could add up to $1000 or more in reduced closing costs for the purchase of a home in Prince George’s County, depending on the terms of your sales contract.  

There are many nice neighborhoods in Bowie, College Park, Laurel and other nearby areas of Prince George’s County that fit the budget of county teachers. 

Let me help you find them!

Posted by Margaret Woda | Discussion: Comments Off on Lower Closing Costs for Teachers

Do New FHA Condo Rules Impact Your Crofton Condo?

Crofton-area condo owners could be affected by some of the new FHA rules, released this week. (Mortgagee Letter 2011-22: Condominium Approval Process for Single Family Housing – Consolidation and Update of Approval Requirements)

Ask your condo board and management company to track the owner-occupancy and delinquency ratios, so they can keep property owners informed. Obviously it will impact the value of your home if financing becomes unavailable for any properties in your association.

These are just two little snippets of information about the new condo rules.  Be sure to ask your agent or lender for other details that could impact your condo in the greater Crofton area.

Find out if your Condo is FHA-approved. I did a random search for one Crofton condo association this morning, and its approval expires 8/31/11.  Be sure to check for this and other details about your association’s status.


Posted by Margaret Woda | Discussion: Comments Off on Do New FHA Condo Rules Impact Your Crofton Condo?

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