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Anatomy of an Offer on Your Home

How to evaluate an offer on your home

When an offer comes in your property, Mr. & Mrs. Seller, here’s what you can expect when we sit down together to go over it.

The first thing we’ll do, before we even look at the offer, is to examine an updated Market Trends Analysis for your local area that’s similar to the one I prepared for you when we listed your home. It’s the best way I know of predicting whether the market is likely to improve or decline in the coming weeks. Understanding the market trends may influence how we proceed with this offer.

Additionally, we’ll review an updated Competitive Market Analysis (CMA) to find out the specifics of home sales that may have occurred since the last CMA I prepared for you, as well as any details about active listings that are your current competition.

Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 8.49.34 AMThen we’ll take a look at the anatomy of the offer, as I highlight for you the contract terms most likely to impact your decision:

1. Price
2. Selling concessions
3. Net proceeds (your bottom line)
4. Financing, including buyer’s qualifications
5. Settlement and occupancy dates
6. Inclusions/exclusions, and
7. Contingencies, if any


Yes, there will be other details to consider, but these Big Seven are the bare bones of the offer, the factors that tend to have a “make it or break it” effect on any home seller’s decision regarding an offer.

Some sellers find it helpful to rate each of these major items with a score of 1-3, knowing that any offer scoring 19-21 is a definite keeper;  a score of 15-18 is a very good offer, worth considering in light of the market trends and CMA we discussed earlier; and, finally, you will most likely counter-offer anything with a score below 15 – at least on the factors that are on your priority list.

What happens next, you ask…

After a determination is made about these Big Seven, we’ll review the entire offer from start to finish, including any addenda and disclosures. As we do, I’ll take notes on a separate piece of paper about any missing or unsatisfactory details so we can consider them together at the conclusion of the contract review. I will make recommendations, based on my professional experience, but you will have full control over the decision to accept, reject or counter-offer – and what is included (or not) in any counter-offer.

While there are many details to every real estate contract, most of them are so-called standard practices. If you and the buyer agree about the bare bones of the offer, a SOLD sign is probably in your future!

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Margaret Woda is a licensed Associate Broker in the Washington, D.C. – Baltimore – Annapolis area. She specializes in Anne Arundel and nearby Prince George’s Counties, Maryland, including Fort Meade, Andrews AFB, and the U.S. Naval Academy. If you enjoyed reading this post and want to learn more about Real Estate the Woda Way, visit her website at Margaret

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Does Open House Help Sell Homes?

Crofton Real Estate FAQ’s

Q. Does Open House Help Sell Homes?

HGTV fans know that a successful Open House is the goal of any home renovation prior to selling. An endless parade of prospective buyers walk through the Open House during the last five minutes of the show, raving about the scrumptious kitchen, spa-like bathroom, etc.

These shows generally conclude by saying how much everyone liked the complete makeover of the home that was performed over the first 25 minutes of the show. They rarely indicate that a contract of sale was the direct result of the Open House.

Dining table croppedAs a REALTOR® in Crofton since the 70’s, I’ve held my share of traditional Open Houses in this area. Years ago, this was the only option for consumers to view home interiors without working with a real estate agent. The situation is quite different in today’s market.

Every home listing is “open” online for viewing 24/7  by anyone, providing that first look at the interior of listed homes.

My daughter is a perfect example of today’s home buyer. She saw the interior photos of a beautiful Virginia townhouse online last month, clicked through to the map to see where the home was located, and immediately made an appointment to see the property. Less than 24 hours after seeing the home online, she submitted an offer and now she is the proud owner of that townhouse.

Statistics from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) indicate that the home-buying process began online for 42 percent of home buyers in 2013 and 92% of home buyers used the Internet to search for homes.

OpenHouseDon’t get me wrong… Open House can still be an effective strategy for marketing a home, especially private events held for local REALTORS® who sell homes in your neighborhood.  And you WILL be seeing Open House signs in your neighborhood during the coming weeks.

Long & Foster’s company-wide Spring Open House Extravaganza will take place April 26-27. If you’d like to see your Crofton-area home included in the advance marketing for this event, contact me today at 410-451-6245 to get your home on the market before then.



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Too much stuff to move!

Preparing your home to sell

Have you ever made plans to list your home and buy another, but reconsidered after your agent or stager advised you to “minimize” so your current house would show better? What on earth will you do with those boxes you never unpacked from moving in, or the excess furniture from combining two adult households, or Grandma’s family heirlooms?


The truth is, they’re right…  They know that prospective buyers are more attracted to professionally staged homes that look bright and spacious. These homes typically sell at top dollar in less than 30 days, so it will benefit you to “minimize” your belongings before putting your home on the market. This will provide the stager a blank slate for dressing your house to sell.

In addition to ASP® stager Jenn Morson, my real estate team now includes an interstate moving company who will transfer clients’ excess items to storage pods when their home is listed and provide insured storage at a climate-controlled indoor facility. Not only that, they will move furniture from one room to the next or even one level of the home to another, as recommended by the agent or stager. The price is less than $500, including two months storage.

My daughter recently experienced this service first hand as she prepared her Northern Virginia condo for sale. The Staging Fashionista (of Facebook fame) had suggested moving some of her heavy furniture and removing boxes stored in an unused bedroom. Over the years, she’s heard the success stories of my clients who staged their homes, so she didn’t hesitate.

She used masking tape to mark two 7×7 areas on the floor, and spent a weekend stacking boxes and furniture within this area to 5′ high. The movers cleared these areas, packed the pods, and relocated furniture within her two level condo in just 3 1/2 hours. Amazing, when you consider that each trip included 33 steps between the front door of her condo and the van.

The result: a condo that was ready to stage, photograph and sell.  Click on the image below to access the slideshow – especially if you know anyone thinking of purchasing a condo in Northern Virginia. (There’s music attached, so you may want to open it when you’re not sitting in a meeting.)

If you have too much stuff to move… put my real estate team to work for you.  We’ve thought of everything, including professional movers to help you prepare for showing your home to prospective buyers.

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Crofton’s 50th Anniversary Calendar

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Should I disclose or disclaim property information?

paperworkPaperwork goes hand in hand with selling a Crofton home.

In addition to the listing agreement and sales contract, there are various forms required by federal, state, and local officials – not to mention others required the real estate broker who will represent you and MRIS, the regional multiple listing system.

One of the state-mandated forms for home sellers is the Maryland Residential Property Disclosure/Disclaimer Statement. Home owners have the option to either disclose or disclaim, but agents are not supposed to advise clients on what to do – it could be interpreted as giving legal advice and, after all, we are not attorneys.  So… how do you decide?

The only advice I can give is this: Both options are perfectly acceptable so do whichever makes you feel comfortable.

If you choose to disclose, please answer each question truthfully because the buyer, lender and real estate professionals will rely on this information. If you’re unsure about anything, “unknown” is an option for most of the questions.

If you choose to disclaim, please note that “latent defects” cannot be disclaimed… they must be identified. According to Wikipedia, “latent defect is a fault in the property that could not have been discovered by a reasonably thorough inspection before the sale.”

Since you can disclose or disclaim, there’s no reason to lose sleep over this choice.  Complete and sign one of them and move on to the next form. There are plenty more to do, and I’ll address some of them over the next few weeks.


Crofton’s 50th Anniversary Calendar



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Pre-Settlement Checklist

Pre-Settlement Inspection Checklist

You’ve found that dream home, come to agreement with the seller on price and terms, successfully negotiated the home inspection repair items, received your appraisal and loan commitment… The only thing left to do (other than packing and moving, of course) is your pre-settlement inspection, sometimes referred to as your walk-thru.

Tempting as it may be to use the time for taking some last minute measurements of the windows or to plan your furniture placement, it’s important to focus on the matter at hand: making sure that everything included in the contract is present and any deficiencies identified in the home inspection are corrected.


It’s possible that your real estate agent will have a pre-settlement checklist for you to use, but it may or may not include everything mentioned above.

One last thought… 

Chances are that your current home is packed and you’re ready to move.  It’s okay to accept some things you find during the final pre-settlement inspection and take care of them yourself so you can go to settlement without any further delays.  Discuss this option with your agent.

Remember, tensions and exhaustion may be high for everyone involved in this transaction… it may not be worth it to make a big deal out of something you can fix for under $100.


Crofton’s 50th Anniversary Calendar


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