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Crofton Real Estate Q&A: Why Won’t You Answer My Questions?

Q.  As a military transferee relocating to Maryland, I’m very frustrated about the way you beat around the bush when I inquire about different neighborhoods and schools in Crofton and throughout the D.C. area.  Why won’t you answer my questions?

A.  Fair Housing Laws forbid real estate agents from providing information to consumers that could be interpreted as “steering” –  i.e., directing a client toward OR away from a particular property in a discriminatory manner.  In other words, my non-answer should not be interpreted as hiding negative information; the answer could be exactly what you want to hear.

Ten years ago, I probably would have suggested that you visit local schools and talk to individuals who live in neighborhoods you’re considering.  Today, however, I can refer you to websites that provide statistical data that may provide you with the peace of mind you’re looking for.  This will be particularly helpful for you, coming from another part of the country.

Demographics

Safety

Schools

Before you buy a home in Crofton or anywhere, it’s important to be familiar and comfortable with the neighborhood and broader community, as well as any individual home.  So don’t hesitate to ask questions because I may be able to suggest additional helpful websites.

Yet it’s still not a bad idea to do some research the old-fashioned way when you come for your house-hunting trip: make a personal visit to neighborhood schools, shopping, dining and recreation facilities BEFORE you buy a home.

 

And please understand that I’m not trying to be coy when I don’t give you a straightforward answer to your questions. I’m trying to follow the law.

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Focus On Crofton was created to attract relocating home buyers to the greater Crofton area and provide information to current residents about local real estate and community information.  Please feel free to contact me with question, news items, or photos.

Posted by Margaret Woda | Discussion: Comments Off on Crofton Real Estate Q&A: Why Won’t You Answer My Questions?

Crofton Real Estate Q&A: What Are Buyers Looking For?

Q.  What are Crofton home buyers looking for in a house?  I’d like to start preparing now to sell my home this summer.

A.  Crofton MD home buyers aren’t much different from buyers everywhere… they want it all! 

Welcome MatToday’s home buyers are looking for…

1. A Great Deal– Home buyers want the most bang for their buck.  You have to price your home aggressively and offer incentives such as closing help, a warranty, or even pre-paid HOA fees in this competitive buyer’s market.

2.  Now – If they’re shopping for a home now, they probably want an answer to their offer now, and they want to move in now.  They don’t want to wait weeks or months for an answer from a 3rd party.  If you’re underwater, begin the HAP or short sale process now and don’t wait for an offer on your home.

3.  Clean – No one wants to clean other people’s dirt.  You need to de-clutter and then clean and polish everything in sight.

4.  No Repairs – The last thing home buyers want to do is move into their new home and start spending more money to fix a leak, patch a wall, or replace a roof.  If you’re not much of a do-it-yourselfer, hire a licensed home improvement contractor.

5.  Beige – Most home buyers prefer a neutral palette so they can add their own decorating taste to their new home.  They’ll cringe at the sight of wallpaper, so start stripping.

6.  Updates – From light fixtures in the bathroom to a high-efficiency furnace, they want 2011 features in that 1970’s house. Many updates are inexpensive and easy to do.

7.  Upgrades – Granite, not laminate counters; stainless steel, not white kitchen appliances; hardwood flooring, not carpet; a deck or patio, not a concrete slab. 

8.  A Garage –  NOT a storage locker and NOT a converted garage now used as a hobby room.  They want to park their car in the garage.  Rent a storage unit for your stuff so prospective buyers can imagine their car in the garage.

9.  Safe – Why not order a radon test, well and septic tests (if applicable), and even a home inspection in advance, and make any recommended safety repairs to give your home a competitive edge.

10. Easy – Like you, home buyers want a smooth and pleasant real estate transaction with minimal hassles. That’s the primary reason most home buyers prefer to work with a buyer’s agent rather than purchase “by owner.”

Some home sellers are limited by time and/or financial resources and can’t offer all of these “wants” to potential home buyers.  That’s okay… very few homes can. (Any that do will probably sell more quickly and for more money.)

Just do what you can and understand that #1 is the most important item on the list.  Buyers will forgive the absence of items #2–10 if you adjust your price accordingly.

Posted by Margaret Woda | Discussion: Comments Off on Crofton Real Estate Q&A: What Are Buyers Looking For?

Crofton Real Estate Q&A: Buy After a Foreclosure?

Q.  I’m probably going to lose my Crofton MD home to foreclosure in 2011.  Will I ever be able to buy another home?

A.  You’ll be happy to know the short answer to this is “YES.”  My friend from Cary, N.C., lender Eleanor Thorne, will tell you about the timing under different mortgage programs, and what you should do to qualify for a mortgage in the future – information you need to know, as you negotiate a lease and start making long-term plans.

If you are one of the millions of families that lost their home in the last couple of years to Foreclosure… you might think…

Roller Coaster Real Estate MarketBeen There – Done That

You might not want to own a home again! 

But if you’re one of those folks who truly does want to purchase again, here’s some potentially good news.

USDA says that they will allow you to purchase a new home to owner occupy, after foreclosure if you’ve done the following things:

  • Wait 3 years from the date of the Foreclosure.
  • Re-establish Credit
  • Have Credit Scores that meet the guidelines (as of the date I am writing this, that means you need a 620 score.)

Here’s the other part… you need to DOCUMENT what happened, and why you ended up in a Foreclosure. 

“FHA insured mortgages are generally not available to borrowers whose property was foreclosed on or given a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure within the previous three years. However, if the foreclosure of the borrower’s main residence was the result of extenuating circumstances, an exception may be granted if they have since established good credit…

This does not include the inability to sell a home when transferring from one area to another.”  So you MIGHT be able to buy after two years. 

My “real life” answer to this question is… in today’s credit environment, it’s going to be HARD to get a Bank to loan you money for a home if you had your home foreclosed upon less than 3 years ago.  I know what the guidelines say, but Bank’s do not have to follow guidelines set by FHA. 

FHA does not say you have to have a 620 credit score, but there are VERY few lenders who will allow you to purchase a home without at least a 620 score!  There are some Banks that will not allow you to purchase with FHA if you have ANY lates on ANY accounts in the last 12 months!  That’s not an FHA guideline, that’s a BANK rule, so again – I’d say – you might still be forced to wait 3 years, and have all of your documentation in order!

These guidelines are different from the Fannie Mae / Freddie Mac Conventional Guidelines… And these foreclosure guidelines are changing OFTEN… so I would not rely solely on information you get from an online site. 

Call a loan officer.

Re-published with permission of the author.

I echo Eleanor’s recommendation that you check with a lender as the time draws closer to find out if the rules change between now and then, rather than rely on information online which could be outdated.  Whether you’re in North Carolina or Maryland or Anywhere USA, you couldn’t go wrong checking with Eleanor Thorne.  She’ll update you on the answer to this question and refer you to a lender in your own neck of the woods.

You can reach her at First Financial Services, Inc (919-649-5057).

Watch for real estate questions and answers
every Friday at Focus On Crofton.

Posted by Margaret Woda | Discussion: Comments Off on Crofton Real Estate Q&A: Buy After a Foreclosure?

Crofton Real Estate Q&A: Carpet or Hardwood Floors?

Q.  Should I refinish the hardwood floors in my Crofton home or recarpet?

Wood flooringA.  If you live in the Crawford section of “Old Crofton” in Crofton MD – the E’s, F’s, and D’s – beautiful hardwood flooring may be hiding under your carpet.  Rather than replace that carpet, consider exposing those floors.  I believe you will not only enjoy them yourself, but also experience a quicker sale and higher price when you put your home on the market.

We refinished the oak flooring on the main level of our previous home on Elwyn Avenue, and we couldn’t have been more pleased with the results.  Yes, they had to be refinished due to damage from carpet strips around the edges, but we never regretted our decision to make the investment.

To this day, I’m pretty sure this home sold for $9,000 more than expected for one reason:  those beautiful hardwood floors! 

That’s my opinion from the perspective of a Crofton REALTORÒ, and this is what Debbie Gartner, President and Owner of Floor Coverings International in Westchester NY/ Stamford CT has to say on this topic: I have hardwood flooring underneath my carpet. Should I refinish the hardwood or recarpet?

Watch for real estate questions and answers
every Friday at Focus On Crofton.

Posted by Margaret Woda | Discussion: Comments Off on Crofton Real Estate Q&A: Carpet or Hardwood Floors?

Maryland Real Estate Forms Updated – 2013

Crofton Real Estate Q&A

Q.  How often are real estate forms updated in Maryland?  The offer on my home includes several forms that haven’t been updated since 2009 or earlier. Should I be concerned?

A.  Maryland real estate forms are typically updated as the laws change, usually in the fall following the legislative session ending in April when new real estate laws are passed.

Nearly forty standard real estate forms have been updated so far in Maryland during 2013, including the Maryland Property Condition Disclosure and Disclaimer from the Maryland Real Estate Commission, a division of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

sign papersMaryland Residential Property Disclosure/Disclaimer Statement

Of the four new statutory forms, changes to the Maryland Residential Property Disclosure/Disclaimer Statement may be the most noticeable at a glance.

Home owners are now asked to disclose if permits were pulled from the county or local permitting office for improvements made by the homeowner or a contractor. Additionally, home owners are asked for details about their smoke detectors.  To view the new form in its entirety, click on Real Estate Commission – Maryland Residential Property Disclosure/Disclaimer Statement.

Maryland Association of REALTORS® Forms:

There were six changes to the Residential Contract of Sale and two changes to the Unimproved Land Contract. Both of these contracts now include a provision advising buyers to inquire about any deferred water and sewer assessments.  Another change to the Residential Contract of Sale is a provision requiring any permit violations to be corrected prior to closing.

Several addenda were modified, including the Short Sale Addendum, the VA and FHA Financing Addenda, the Financial Condition of Property Addendum, the Lockbox Addendum and several others.

The brokerage agreements for buyers and sellers were updated, as well.

This is not meant to be a complete list of updates, of course, but a reminder to check the date at the bottom of the page on any so-called “standard” real estate forms. If they’re not dated 2013, ask the agent to confirm that the form is the latest update. This information is easily available to all real estate agents and brokers at the Maryland Association of REALTORS® website.

Copyright 2013. All rights reserved. Margaret Woda

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Local information posted to Focus on Crofton is my way of attracting new buyers to our community while keeping my neighbors informed. Please feel free to comment below or contact me directly if you would like to see a post about an event sponsored by your community organization or a specific real estate topic.

Posted by Margaret Woda | Discussion: Comments Off on Maryland Real Estate Forms Updated – 2013

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