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Does backyard play equipment for children increase my property value?

Crofton Real Estate Q & A

Q.  If I invest in backyard play equipment, will it increase my property value?  Will buyers find the home more desirable?

Girl on swing2A. When I advise home sellers to “neutralize” their home before putting it on the market, I’m not just referring to painting the place beige.  Sellers should do everything they can to make the property a blank canvas where prospective buyers can image their own family living, and that means removal of the seller’s personal memorabilia, religious symbols, and even play equipment.

Sorry, I know that’s not what you want to hear, but it’s been my experience that play equipment can be a drawback to many buyers and it certainly adds no value to the property at all.  If a prospective buyer happens to have children the right age for the equipment, they may think it’s “nice” but they probably won’t pay more for the property.

In fact, play equipment doesn’t even make the list of features on the 2010-2011 Cost vs.Value Annual Report for home improvements published by Remodeling Magazine.

My advice to anyone installing a swing set or other play equipment in their yard is to make sure it’s something they’re willing to take down when they put their home on the market for sale.


Posted by Margaret Woda | Discussion: Comments Off on Does backyard play equipment for children increase my property value?

Should You Refinance Your Current Home Loan?

Crofton Real Estate Questions & Answers

Q.  Should I be thinking about re-financing?  I heard that rates are really low right now.

A.  If you haven’t yet refinanced your 6% or higher mortgage, now might be the time to do so. 

Take a minute to read this article and view these charts on CNN Money.  You’ll see that 30–year loans are below 4.5% for the first time in eight months, and 15 year loans are even lower.

Even if you’ve been paying on your loan for over a decade, it could lower your payment to refinance now with a 15–year loan at today’s low interest rate.  Try the MORTGAGE CALCULATOR on this website to play with the numbers, and contact me to recommend a local lender if you’d like more information.


Posted by Margaret Woda | Discussion: Comments Off on Should You Refinance Your Current Home Loan?

What are The Home Inspection Blues?

Crofton MD Real Estate Q & A

Q.  The Crofton home I’m purchasing is very well maintained.  Why should I get a home inspection?

A. This question comes up often, and I understand your hesitation to spend money on a home inspection for a “great” house that’s been well-maintained.  Yet I always recommend one to my buyer-clients.  One of my colleagues on Activerain recently addressed the issue of a home inspection in a featured blog, and she generously gave me her permission to re-post it here for Crofton-area readers.

The Home Inspection Blues
By Leslie Ebersole, REALTOR, Chicago’s West Suburbs

Home Inspectors BluesHeard of the home inspection blues? After viewing dozens of homes over many weeks, you’ve selected the perfect house. The price is negotiated! The contract is signed! Plan the house-warming party! Call the movers!

But what’s the REALTOR® droning on about…home inspection? You shush her while you dream of serving pancakes to smiling children on a sunny morning. You can see the Christmas tree in the front window….the gardens you’ll plant in the spring.

In the blink of an eye your REALTOR® changes…from the chirpy cheerleader who loved every house to a dour-faced skeptic who is muttering about “material defects” and “health and safety”.  She says you will have to actually pay money to some crabby guy to pick the house apart and destroy your dreams. You begin to develop a case of the home inspection blues.

You aren’t expecting a perfect house, you assure your REALTOR®. But suddenly, everyone you’ve every met has a bad house story. You hear about houses sliding off foundations and furnaces that blew up in the dead of winter. You begin to pray that the crabby guy can see through walls. Now the home inspection blues have settled in for a long visit.

But shake off that gloomy feeling. The home inspection is a time to learn about the house and make sure that it’s safe. It’s a time to make sure that there aren’t problems that exceeds the buyer’s resources to address in the future. In Illinois, where I work as a St Charles IL real estate agent, the home inspection is supposed to identify defects in the major mechanical and structural elements of the home, which includes:

Linda's imageThere are many gray areas of what a seller can be asked to address after a  home inspection. If the questionable component of the house was to code when it was built, the seller may not be required to make the change. For example, we now know that bathroom fans should be vented to the outside of the home, not into the attic. A home inspector might recommend this be changed as an improvement to the house.

I always recommend that a buyer have a professional home inspection and would insist on a signed waiver if it was declined. The home inspection is intended to make sure that a buyer knows about problems, issues and defects in a home so that they are not taking on more than they expected.

So hire a great home inspector and learn as much as possible from him (or her) about the house. Then work with your REALTOR® and attorney to make a realistic list of requests from the seller.

Note: I am a licensed REALTOR® in Illinois, so these observations are made based on my experience and our state laws. Please consult with local professionals for the requirements for home inspections in your area.

This post was written by Leslie Ebersole of Baird & Warner Real Estate.
Use or reproduction of the material published on this site is expressly prohibited without the express written permission of the author


If you or anyone you know ever need a REALTOR in the west suburbs of Chicago,
Leslie Ebersole’s profile on Activerain, and let her know you found her through

Posted by Margaret Woda | Discussion: Comments Off on What are The Home Inspection Blues?

Why Do I Have to Sign an Agency Notice in Maryland?

Crofton MD Real Estate Q & A

Q.  Why do I have to sign an agency notice, just to go look at homes in Maryland?  I’m not ready to sign anything yet or to decide on one agent. 

REALTORA.  The state-mandated agency notice, Understanding Whom Real Estate Agents Represent, must be presented by a real estate licensee to a consumer at their first scheduled meeting. 

It’s a matter of Maryland law.  By signing the form, you’ll simply acknowledges the agent did what he/she is required to do.  This notice does not obligate you to working with the agent, or the agent to working with you.  

If you decide to look at homes with other agents, each of them should provide this notice to you at your first scheduled meeting with them.

If/when you choose one agent to represent you in your sale, you’ll want to sign a buyer-broker agreement that creates a contractual agreement between you and the agent’s broker.  It defines the responsibilities of you and the broker to each other –  some of those responsibilities are mandated by law and some of them are negotiable between you and your broker.  If you see anything in the form you don’t understand, or don’t like, just ask about it.  Chances are the agent can explain that provision or propose a compromise.

The buyer-broker contract is not required up front, but it must be in place prior to the agent preparing a written offer for you on a home.  For now, before you go look at any homes, you’ll have to acknowledge the agency notice provided to you by the showing agent.

Brochure:  Understanding the Role of Real Estate Agents

Required Forms:  Understanding Whom Real Estate Agents Represent and Consent for Dual Agency

Blog Post:  Why Do I Need a Buyer-Broker Agreement?



Posted by Margaret Woda | Discussion: Comments Off on Why Do I Have to Sign an Agency Notice in Maryland?

What Is Staging?

Crofton MD Real Estate Q & A

Q.  “Staging” seems to be a new buzz word in real estate sales.  What does it mean?  Will it make a difference in the sale of my Crofton home?

A.  Staging will prepare your home for the eyes of prospective buyers by de-personalizing your property and adding an element of pizzaz.  This will make it easier for buyers to imagine their own family living there – even excited about living there.

Interior - websiteThere’s probably a staging organization somewhere that could quote you impressive statistics about how quickly staged homes sell.  I can only tell you, from my experience, that a staged home seldom takes more than 30 days to sell.  My staged listing in Bowie closed earlier this month after selling in 18 days (average days on market in that zipcode was 83) and… drum roll, please… it closed at $19,000 above appraisal.

It can be extremely difficult for you to pack away personal memorabilia or re-arrange furniture while you’re still living in your home – but that’s what it may take to give your home the competitive edge with buyers.  A stager will have the experience and training to advise you, and some stagers will even assist with the suggested packing and moving.

The price will vary, depending on the stager and your property, but return on investment is greater and requires less up-front capitol than most pre-sale activities. indicates a 586% return on investment.  Not too shabby!

Staging is like the icing on the cake, when it comes to property condition.  And property condition is right up there with pricing and location, when it comes to “why” some homes sell quickly in this market and others languish.

If you’re thinking of selling your Crofton area home, let’s talk more about staging as a strategy to maximize your home-selling results.

Button - Sell my home



Posted by Margaret Woda | Discussion: Comments Off on What Is Staging?

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