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I’ve had the pleasure and the opportunity write this column for about 15 years.  My goal was to inform and enlighten you about housing and real estate issues.  And over the years, recurring themes emerged.  Some are dynamic, while others seem to be unchanging. Through my many columns I wrote about the dynamic nature of […]

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When you’re selling a home, a consequential decision is your list price and pricing strategy.  Deciding on your price can be confusing because, sometimes, what you hear from the media is not exactly what your real estate agent is telling you.  Additionally, making matters worse is hearing disparate information from different real estate agents. For […]

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It’s common knowledge that your home sale must have multiple high-quality photos.  If you don’t, then be prepared for a long disappointing sale.  Multiple high-quality pictures have not only become a home sale must, but it seems as if photos and tours have become the central feature of many real estate agents’ marketing plans.  Not […]

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Every year, it is a tradition to resolve to make some changes in our lives.  Rather than the same old and trite New Year’s resolutions, consider one of these three to help you this year. Selling a home this year? Your resolution is to not overpay real estate commissions.  2019 will be remembered as the […]

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Can zoning be the answer to solving housing shortages and increasing affordability?  Many city planners and politicians think so.  Although many localities are still considering upzoning ordinances, some have already implemented upzoning amendments that allow increased resident density.  The immediate effect is likely to be felt by the addition of housing.  However, it’s unclear how […]

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For some, the holiday season is a time of enjoying family and friends.  For others, it’s a time of giving.  Regardless, many agree that it’s a time we wish each other joy and happiness.  Here’s some thoughts on keeping your holiday safe and enjoyable. Protect your home from fire.  According to the Consumer Product Safety […]

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Experts’ home sale inventory forecasts for the spring echo expectations from recent years. And in some regions, it could be a very competitive homebuyer market.  Affordability is likely to be a major issue according to CoreLogic’s chief economist Frank Nothaft (Peering into the Housing and Mortgage Outlook with 20/20 Vision; corelogic.com; Dec. 5, 2019).  The […]

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Each spring, we talk about cleaning our homes after cocooning during the winter months.  The American Cleaning Institute (ACI) publishes an annual survey that reveals how many of us actually do a “spring cleaning,” as well as cleaning priorities and outcomes.  However, beginning spring cleaning during the winter can make your spring a breeze. According […]

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If you have been following the housing market, you know that housing experts have been declaring a home sale inventory shortage since 2013.  In National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) Nov. 27 Pending Home Sales Index release, chief economist Lawrence Yun partly blamed October’s 1.7% decline to “inadequate levels of inventory across the country.”  He stated […]

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No matter what items a homebuyer has on their wish list, they are typically constrained by the home price.  As a result, the buyer is often limited in their choices.  Accordingly, buyers prioritize home features and benefits when comparing homes. Nonetheless, homebuyers often have a choice between a new home or resale.  Besides the allure […]

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Conventional real estate wisdom used to be that timing the market was the key to listing your home for sale.  Most home sellers tried to aim for the spring and early summer months to sell their homes.  In fact, June continues to be when most settlements occur.  However, selling strategies have changed over the last […]

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After the unexpected slowdown of existing home sales last fall, most real estate agents had optimism for the 2019 spring market.  However, many were surprised by the early spring reporting of mixed housing data (when all indicators should have been positive).  Although national stats for spring seemed to be pushing upward, some regional markets did […]

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Homebuyers have various criteria when searching for a home.  Some are most concerned with schools, while others may be interested in proximity to mass transit.  However, one of the top items homebuyers consider when buying a home is neighborhood safety. Homebuyers do not have to justify their preference for a safe neighborhood. However, concern for […]

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Ten years ago, I reported on the growing demand of transparency in real estate.  As you can imagine, mistrust of real estate agents was at an all-time high after the housing market crash.  At that time, homebuyers and sellers felt betrayed by an industry that was perceived as keeping their cards close to their chest. […]

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The warnings of real estate closing scams were rapidly broadcast in 2015,  and by 2016, there was awareness that criminals were wholeheartedly targeting all parties involved in real estate transactions through phishing emails.  The phishing emails that were sent seemed legit, and in many cases appeared to have come from your agent or title company, […]

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To help homebuyers understand the costs of buying a home, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (consumerfinance.gov) rolled out the Know Before You Owe initiative in 2015.  The project actually has deeper roots in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010.  Dodd-Frank created the CFPB and mandated that the Bureau “shall publish […]

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House flipping has been around as long as people have lived in houses.  Flipping houses got a bad rap in the 1990s, when scammers engaged in widespread fraud using mortgages, appraisals and straw buyers.  In some cases, some “renovated” houses were uninhabitable and sold to unsuspecting home buyers. But house flipping has regained its legitimacy […]

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Of the handful of new Maryland real estate related laws that go into effect this week, two are highly important for you to know. One protects your confidential information, and the other concerns your earnest money deposit on a Maryland home sale. The first is HB1228/SB807, which was effective Oct. 1.  Besides cleaning up the […]

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If you feel that you are always doing maintenance on your home, you are not alone.  But the truth is that homes require regular maintenance.  Fall is here and time to get to work. Fall home maintenance can help your home keep you comfortable, dry and healthy.  Because of the temperature changes and potential for […]

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Some homes seem to sell themselves, while others need help. If your home needs help, understand that effective use of marketing tools can increase your home’s appeal. Also, finding ways to communicate your home’s value will help sell it faster and for more money. Home sale marketing tools began when real estate brokerage began. Although […]

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Earlier this year, President Donald Trump released a memorandum indicating the need to reform the current structure of housing finance. Although some believe this initiative is a distraction, the reality is that housing finance reform has been in the government sights for years.  In fact, the current state of mortgage markets was only meant to […]

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Once thought of as a supporting actor in the housing industry, home remodeling is poised to take the spotlight. The growing fascination with home remodeling is generating new renovation trends and research.  If you are not yet thinking of remodeling your home, chances are that you will be planning a home improvement project in the […]

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Have you thought about your homeowners insurance lately? Chances are that unless you have made a recent claim, you probably haven’t given it much consideration.  If you are like most homeowners, you probably think that your homeowners policy is a “set-it and forget-it” item.  Maybe it’s time for a homeowners insurance tune-up to make sure […]

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What was once considered a winding down period for the year’s home sales, has become housing’s second wind.  Autumn is not only a time when the leaves start falling, but it also has become a target selling season for home sellers who miss the spring market.  It is also a second chance for those who […]

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Whether you admit it or not, buying a home is a stressful endeavor. Even if you HAVE purchased a home before, the process can be somewhat nerve-wracking and overwhelming.  Taking time out of your already busy schedule to search and visit homes, as well as applying for a mortgage can make life hectic.  So, who […]

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Each time the stock market plunges there’s speculation about a widespread economic contagion.  Talking heads and news headlines predict doom and gloom, as well as speculate about the effects on the housing market. Because Wall Street reacts to all types of news and events, the effect of a stock crash on the housing market can […]

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If you have a home-based business or telecommute, you are one of the millions of Americans who probably have or want a home office.  What seems to be a staple of modern living wasn’t always so. The home office most likely developed from the “study” that existed in the larger homes of the well-to-do. These […]

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Realtors have their own lingo.  Some real estate language sticks around while some changes.  However, there are many words and phrases that have been designated taboo and can be considered violating the Fair Housing Act if used in ads to describe homes.  Some real estate terminology may be offensive to many, and yet is still […]

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If you are listing your home for sale with a realtor, you will likely encounter a one-page disclosure that is important yet often neglected. The purpose of the “Inclusions/Exclusions Disclosure and Addendum” is to communicate with the homebuyer what conveys with the house and what you intend to take. If completed as expected, the disclosure […]

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A common complaint from home buyers is that there is lack of quality homes for sale.  A fact that most overlook is that home sale inventory has been relatively low since 2011.  The shortage has been attributed to many things including home prices, economy, mortgage interest rates, jobs, etc.  However, a Freddie Mac report issued […]

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The current U.S. economy just hit a milestone by becoming the longest stretch of economic growth in our Nation’s modern history.  The expansion is now in the 121st month. The previous expansion record was 120 months, and occurred between March 1991 and March 2001. Most attribute the dot-com bubble as the precipitating event that ended […]

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Wouldn’t it be nice to beat the summer time heat in a swimming pool? Besides cooling off, the idea of having a swimming pool is attractive to many home owners for many reasons, including entertaining guests and exercise (if large enough).  Pool company advertisements suggest a swimming pool can make your yard more attractive, and […]

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Downsizing was once thought of as a rite of passage for empty-nesters and retirees.  It was considered the next stage of homeownership after enjoying the big house and puttering in the yard.  But everything you thought you knew about downsizing is probably stereotyped and incorrect. Results of a recent survey that was conducted on behalf […]

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Did you know that the AAA estimates that there will be about 100 million Americans who will take a family vacation this year ? If you’re one of those millions planning a trip this summer, you’re likely stressing over your plans.  Some of that stress is certainly vacation planning, but some may be about leaving […]

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If you’ve been waiting to buy a home, now may be your time to jump into the market. Maybe you’ve been wary of home prices, or concerned about mortgage rates.  Maybe you’ve been attempting to “time the market” to get a good deal on a home.  Regardless of your reason for waiting to buy a […]

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If you’re thinking of buying your first home, or have already started the process, take note.  First time home buyers tend to overpay when buying a home.  This is the conclusion of a study recently published in the Journal of Real Estate Research (Under What Circumstances do First-time Homebuyers Overpay? – An Empirical Analysis Using […]

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One of the hottest controversies in real estate that you have yet to hear about is who should pay buyer agent commissions.  Real estate broker commission controversies have been around in one form or another for decades.  The commissions issue typically becomes front and center when the housing market is doing well.  This time, however, […]

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Disruption in the marketplace seems to be the standard these days. So, it should not come as a surprise that the iBuyer phenomenon has taken hold of the real estate industry and is expanding.  What started out as an experiment in limited markets has grown into the internet version of “I Buy Houses.” (You’ve probably […]

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An article by Tracey Barbour for the Alaska Business Monthly (Younger buyers partial to homeownership, home-buyer education, online resources: akbizmag.com; September 2017) describes the growing phenomenon of millennial homeownership.  Not surprisingly, many millennial home buyers are taking advantage of home buyer assistance programs.  Because millennials grew up with the internet, you might think that they […]

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Homes can vary along a spectrum of many factors.  Size, style, location, are just the basic differences and are generally used by home buyers in their home search.  However, even similar homes in the same neighborhood can differ depending on the homes’ features.  Home buyer preferences and trends toward home features is usually the reason […]

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Coming on the heels of a dismal January, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) March 22 data release announced good news declaring a home sales “surge” during February (nar.realtor). February’s closings increased 11.8 percent, compared to January! But the bad news is that the number of sales also decreased 1.8 percent from last year. If […]

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Moving into your new home is exciting. You just went through an intensive process that tested your character.  You feel a sense of relief it’s over.  But the work is not over, it’s just beginning.  There’s plenty to do after settlement that can help save you time down the road, keep your home functioning and […]

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If successful, an anti-trust class-action lawsuit filed March 6th could potentially change the landscape of the residential real estate industry.  The lawsuit alleges that the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and a number of major real estate brokerage brands engaged in “anticompetitive practices.” According to the law firm Hagens Berman (hbsslaw.com), “the lawsuit alleges NAR […]

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Once thought of as a pricey way to prepare a home for sale, home staging has become entrenched in the home sale process.  Not only has it become part of the home seller experience, home buyers and their agents now expect some staging when they visit homes. The spring home sale season is the perfect […]

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Curb appeal is one of those “intuitive” topics that only gets media attention once, maybe twice a year.  If you search the internet, you’d find millions of websites that talk about curb appeal.  Because the concept is based on accepted lore, my guess is that most of those sites regurgitate the same ideas.  Everyone has […]

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In a statement last year, NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun discussed the housing market’s recovery since the Great Recession (Realtors Chief Economist Reflects on Past Recession, What’s Ahead for Housing; nar.realtor; August 28, 2018).  Citing increasing homeownership rates and addressing the recent home sale slowdown, Dr. Yun believes that concerns about a significant housing slump […]

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Saving the planet and acting environmentally ethical is good.  But there is a truth that human behavior is unpredictable.  Even in the face of the speculative disastrous effects of climate change, consumer demand for housing in affected areas is resilient.  Rapti Gupta pointed this out when raising the alarm in his RealtyToday article (The Looming […]

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First time homebuyers play a significant role in the housing market and economy.  According to the National Association of Realtors 2018 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, first time homebuyers represented 33 percent of home purchases last year.  Although their impact has decreased since the first time homebuyer credit was discontinued, first timers continue to […]

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Having choices is good.  For many, have having a choice represents freedom. For others, choice creates angst out of fear of making the wrong selection. Dr. Barry Schwartz wrote about this phenomenon in his book “The Paradox of Choice.” Schwartz describes that having too much choice can create negative well-being.  This phenomenon also exists in […]

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Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich’s recent remark about millennials and housing doesn’t just speak volumes about politics and elected officials, but possibly reveals the future of housing and business in the county.  His “slip of the tongue” opposing building housing for millennials was not taken lightly and received plenty of pushback. To be fair, Elrich […]

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Do you think your identity is safe?  Even with precautions and laws to protect your ID while conducting financial transactions, there can still be a weak link that can put you at risk.  The latest data breach reported last week, which you may not have heard about, involved the leaking of over 24 million mortgage […]