The Blog

Tinder® and Trulia® – Are dating and buying a home the same?

 

I’ve helped people with the process of selling and buying houses for over 23 years. It’s a complicated sometimes volatile mix of analysis and emotion that people have compared to death and divorce regarding the strain it puts on people. There’s another stress-inducing activity I’ve been thinking about recently, dating. There are plenty of similarities between those two as well.

The home search process and dating have changed in the past 20 years. Now they both are driven, at least in the beginning stages, by the internet. The last time I was dating, it was mostly a question of who you knew, and who they knew, which watering hole you frequented, where you worked or went to school.

Those were the places where many people met their partners. As for houses, when I first started in real estate, there was no online access to the public and no online photos for anyone. You had to go out there and look. You had to kiss a lot of frogs before you found the right one.

That leads me to another similarity, the fact that pictures online can tell one story, but face to face can be a very different one. I advise my seller clients that the war for the buyer’s hearts and minds is won or lost with the first picture they see, and the same can indeed be said for online dating sites, swipe left or right, the decision happens in an instant.

In today’s low inventory market, the buyers and their agents have to play a waiting game. They watch their phones, hoping that the “right one” will appear today. Every time their phone pings they jump. When they see something that looks like a winner, rush right out to see it. They pull up front, and nervously walk to the door, the agent fiddles with the lockbox, and finally, they open the door. Is it going to be love at first sight or just another disappointment?

Now let’s look at the seller’s side for a moment, there is waiting for many of them as well. They get their house all gussied up in a pretty black dress by clearing out the house, put on makeup by staging and maybe even get a manicure and a pedicure, landscaping and exterior improvements. Next are the pictures, and preparation of marketing materials, and finally I push the send button, and the listing is live!!

Then the waiting starts; they’re hoping for the first call or online showing request. It seems to take forever, but eventually, it arrives. Now comes the last minute primping before a showing or the open house. More dusting, straightening and putting things away. Finally, the buyers come and look, sometimes they’re in and out quickly, but maybe they linger. The sellers wonder, what do they think, will they come back for a second look? What other houses are they seeing? If the buyers don’t call quickly, then the sellers start to wonder and worry. Why didn’t they like our house? What’s wrong with them?

My job as an agent is to help my clients, buyers or sellers, understand the emotions, and come to grips with them. My goal is to help them look at the situation with a clear lens, to put the rose colored glasses away and try to focus on what’s important. 

The Joys of Homeownership

Whenever I send out a mailer, I wonder how many people read it, or if it goes straight into the circular file. Mostly, I get good feedback, but sometimes just silence… So let’s try something new in 2018, a little crowdsourcing for stories.

Most of you are homeowners. That’s probably how we met. I have helped people in DC Maryland and Virginia over my 24 years in Real Estate. You’ve bought diverse types of housing and in all kinds of neighborhoods. You may be happily ensconced in an early 1900’s farmhouse or a brand new condo, or something in between. One thing all homes have in common, no matter their size, style, age or location, are they consistently present us with projects that need to be done. Some are big, some small, some need a specialist, and some are DIY projects, which always seem to involve a minimum of 2 trips to the hardware store for me :).

So here’s the plan. I’m going to reach out to you soon to see if you’ve had an “interesting” home ownership challenge, a story that you think might resonate with other people like you. It could be that something broke, or maybe you just wondered why the gizmo that’s attached to the water heater is there. I’ll get a little bit of background, and perhaps a couple of smartphone pictures of the item in question. Then I’d like to share your story with my other readers, no personal attribution, and see if it might help someone else.

I thought it’d be informative to share with each other. The particulars will be private, with just enough information to help everyone benefit from the lessons learned by others. I’ll try to include some feedback from expert tradespeople, when possible, to give a different point of view. C’mon it’ll be fun!

 

I froze my credit. How about you??


Brrrr, it’s cold in here.

I just finished freezing my credit, how about you??

I’ve learned a bit about my credit, and what I can do to protect it, over the past couple of weeks. What seemed like a non event to me, turned into a bit of a journey. Click on the video to learn more, and check out the links below for resources aplenty to help you figure out what’s the best route for you to take to protect your identity from the cyber crooks out there.

First things first: Get free copies of your credit reports. Just to be clear, these are not your credit scores, but the actual reports.  Click here to get copies of your credit reports from the 3 largest credit bureaus. I saved mine as PDF’s and then moved on to…

Step 2: Freeze your credit accounts.  Be prepared, the credit bureaus don’t make it easy, they want to sell you their credit protection subscriptions, but just keep at it. Transunion required me to create a user name to initiate the freeze, but eventually victory was mine!! Here are the links:

A. Transunion

B. Equifax

C. Experian

D. I even learned that there is a fourth credit bureau called

Innovis

If you’d like to read up some more about all of this, here are a couple of articles which I found helpful. One is by Michelle Singletary from the Washington Post. The other is from Consumer Reports.

Are you one of the 140,000,000 who may have been caught up in this mess?

Did you learn anything about how to protect your credit, or other private information, from cyber thieves?

Hit reply and tell me. I’d love to hear from you.

Why this winter may be a GREAT time to sell you house.

Here are five reasons listing your home for sale this winter makes sense. 

1. Demand Is Strong

The latest Buyer Traffic Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that buyer demand remains very strong throughout the vast majority of the country. These buyers are ready, willing and able to purchase… and are in the market right now! More often than not, multiple buyers are competing with each other to buy a home.

Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.

2. There Is Less Competition Now

Housing inventory is still under the 6-month supply that is needed for a normal housing market. This means that, in the majority of the country, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers in the market. This is good news for homeowners who have gained equity as their home values have increased. However, additional inventory could be coming to the market soon.

Historically, the average number of years a homeowner stayed in their home was six, but has hovered between nine and ten years since 2011. There is a pent-up desire for many homeowners to move, as they were unable to sell over the last few years because of a negative equity situation. As home values continue to appreciate, more and more homeowners will be given the freedom to move.

The choices buyers have will continue to increase. Don’t wait until this other inventory comes to market before you decide to sell.

3. The Process Will Be Quicker

Today’s competitive environment has forced buyers to do all they can to stand out from the crowd, including getting pre-approved for their mortgage financing. This makes the entire selling process much faster and much simpler as buyers know exactly what they can afford before home shopping. According to Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insights Report, the time to close a loan has dropped to 44 days, after seeing a 12-month high of 48 days in January.

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move Up

If your next move will be into a premium or luxury home, now is the time to move up! The inventory of homes for sale at these higher price ranges has forced these markets into a buyer’s market. This means that if you are planning on selling a starter or trade-up home, your home will sell quickly, AND you’ll be able to find a premium home to call your own!

Prices are projected to appreciate by 4.7% over the next year according to CoreLogic. If you are moving to a higher-priced home, it will wind up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait.

5. It’s Time to Move on With Your Life

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than your health? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?

Only you know the answers to the questions above. You have the power to take control of the situation by putting your home on the market. Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

That is what is truly important.

7 reasons to list your home this holiday season

7 Reasons to List Your Home This Holiday Season

7 Reasons to List Your Home This Holiday Season | MyKCM

Every year at this time, many homeowners decide to wait until after the holidays to put their homes on the market for the first time, while others who already have their homes on the market decide to take them off until after the holidays.

Here are seven great reasons not to wait:

  1. Relocation buyers are out there. Many companies are still hiring throughout the holidays and need their employees in their new positions as soon as possible.
  2. Purchasers who are looking for homes during the holidays are serious buyers and are ready to buy now.
  3. You can restrict the showings on your home to the times you want it shown. You will remain in control.
  4. Homes show better when decorated for the holidays.
  5. There is less competition for you as a seller right now. Let’s take a look at listing inventory as compared to the same time last year:

7 Reasons to List Your Home This Holiday Season | MyKCM

  1. The desire to own a home doesn’t stop when the holidays come. Buyers who were unable to find their dream home during the busy spring and summer months are still searching!
  2. The supply of listings increases substantially after the holidays. Also, in many parts of the country, new construction will continue to surge reaching new heights in 2018, which will lessen the demand for your house.

Bottom Line

Waiting until after the holidays to sell your home probably doesn’t make sense.

Tour of Kensington Maryland real estate listings 10.29.17

 

Maybe you didn’t have time to get out and see the new listings this week, well…. here you go. Watch the video to see four listings with commentary. Need more information? Click below and you’ll get pictures, virtual tours and all of the data.
I tried to keep it short, but sometimes I ramble a bit:) If you or someone you know has any questions about these homes, or other properties in Kensington, my contact information is below. I’ll look forward to hearing from you.

3905 Decatur Avenue Kensington MD 20895

3415 Anderson Rd. Kensington MD 20895

9913 La Duke Drive Kensington MD 20895

4909 Cushing Drive Kensington MD 20895

7 great staging tips that’ll make your house sparkle!

Are you thinking about selling your home soon?

It’s a lot of work to get a house ready for the market. Make sure that you spend your money and time on the right improvements and repairs, the ones that’ll help you sell for the most money in the least amount of time. Read on for 7 insider tips to help you get started.

Staging is not all about furniture – It’s about preparing your house to go on the market, and hopefully to become someone else’s home.

1. Take off your rose colored glasses
You may not see them when you look in the mirror, but they are there. You need to look at your home through the buyer’s eyes, to separate yourself from the memories and emotions. Think of it as a commodity for sale, and decide what’s the best way to market that commodity to the largest possible audience.

2. Pretend you are camping out in your house
Don’t pitch a tent in the living room, but think about everything that’s in the house.

Ask yourself these questions and answer honestly:

  • Will you need it in the next 90 days? If you will, then figure out if there’s a place you can stash it so that it’s accessible but out of sight.
  • If you won’t use it in the next 90 days, will you use it in the next 12-24 months? If the answer is yes, then pack it up and store it at another location if possible
  • If you won’t use it in the next 12-24 months, will you ever use it? If not, Sell it, donate it or dispose of it. Pack before you put the house on the market. If you are really moving, then you are going to have to pack anyway, you’ll be better off doing it before the photographer comes.

3. Pick a focus for each room
Dining rooms are for eating, not working. Bedrooms are for sleeping. If you have a room divided between two purposes, you are sending mixed messages to the buyers. They’ll lose focus and be confused.

4. Curb appeal
Online home buyers make their decisions in the first few seconds they see the listing. The key is to catch their attention and make them want to click on the second and third pictures, and then to take the time to come and see your home. There are 2 parts to curb appeal in the 21st century:

a. Digital Curb Appeal – It used to be that the first time a buyer would see a house was when they pulled up out front; not any more. With virtual tours, videos and 3D tours buyers have already gone over your home with a fine toothed comb before they even arrive. The battle for the hearts and minds of today’s home buyers is won or lost on  the screen of their smartphones, so professional photographs are crucial. Poor pictures=poor results.

b. Actual Curb Appeal – Now that we’ve won the battle to get them to come and take a look, we want to draw them in from their car.

5. Manicure the lawn, trim the bushes and weed all flower beds.
If the mulch is faded, add a layer of new mulch to freshen it up. These simple changes will freshen up the front of the house and make it feel welcoming.

6. Once the yard is in order, look at the front door.
Does it need a fresh coat of paint? Is the hardware faded? The buyers will linger at the front door while their agent fiddles with the lockbox and the door lock. Does the lock work smoothly? We don’t want them to struggle to get in the house. Maybe you could hang a seasonal wreath or welcome sign on the front door, and use flower pots to add color to the walkway and porch.Sweat the details- From the front door hardware to the switch plates, buyers tend to focus on small things. Spend the time to make sure those things are just right, so that they’ll love your home and want to make it theirs.

7.  Pack before you put the house on the market.
If you are really moving, then you are going to have to pack anyway, you’ll be better off doing it before the photographer comes.

8.  Light it up
The more light the merrier – It’s really hard to have too much light. The first step is to let all of the natural light in you can.

a. Clean all of the windows (inside and out) to let as much sunshine in as possible.

b. Remove window treatments which block light.

c.  Make sure that all blinds and shades operate properly and open completely.

d. Put the same tone and “temperature” of bulbs in the same room. Mismatched bulbs attract negative attention from buyers.

e. Have at least one light source for each 100 sf of interior space.

 

Take action on these steps and you’ll know that your house is ready to win in today’s market.

WANT MORE STAGING SUGGESTIONS?
We’ve got the soup to nuts staging guide, a special booklet that walks you through the staging process room by room.

CALL or TEXT 202-362-4663
or email us for your FREE copy

The sound that makes me worry.

DRIP DRIP DRIP- One of my least favorite sounds as a homeowner. A few weeks ago the kids and I came home one weekend afternoon, and as I closed the front door, I heard a dripping sound. I have this phobia about running/dripping water. It goes back to my early days as a landlord. We had a toilet in our rental building tucked down in the basement.  Nobody really used it, but shame on us, we never shut if off either… until we got a bill from WSSC for $1500. Our regular bill was about $200. All thanks to a leaking valve. It was probably a $5 part that cost us and extra $1300.  At that point the building was bleeding to the tune of about $300/month and we were in no position to cough up another $1500. 

But back to the drip at my house. I ran around the house checking all of the plumbing, nothing seemed wrong, no water under the sink, and dry as a whistle under the dishwasher. Then I listened carefully and heard it coming from the family room. There is not any plumbing in the family room. I walked in and there was a huge bubble of paint in the ceiling and water dripping on to the carpet. Back upstairs to the kitchen I stood there in the middle of the kitchen trying to think, where could it be coming from. We’d had some rain that day, so I thought that maybe it was the roof, but how was it getting from the attic to the basement with no evidence on the main floor?? So I went back downstairs, got out the utility knife and a bucket and cut the drywall away, got my phone out, turned on the flashlight and had a peek.

 

Then it hit me, the fridge. It was coming from the fridge. So the kids and I slid the fridge out, shut off the valve for the water line, and tried to figure out where the water was coming from.

I had visions of the repairman having to tear apart the fridge to fix it. But a little bit of detective work, and I located the culprit

 

 

It’s a cheap little plastic tube, only a couple of steps up from one of those bendy straws that Oliver loves. It had a little pinhole in it, so there was this tiny spray of water coming out. I am not sure how it suddenly sprang a leak, but that didn’t really matter. We had to get it fixed.

I have been on lots of home inspections over the years, and almost every inspector I know suggests that the buyers replace the standard rubber hoses for the clothes washer with braided stainless steel hoses. 

 

It’s something easy to do that can save you from a plumbing disaster. I have also heard inspectors mention that the water line behind the wall that feeds the fridge should always be copper ( which mine was). But I don’t remember any inspector saying that you should check the water supply line that goes from the wall to the fridge itself.  So could I get a stainless steel water line for the fridge?? I hopped on the laptop to see if home depot had any, indeed they did. Off I went, and about a hour later I was pushing the fridge back in place.

Lots more work to do to dry the carpet and padding, but it could’ve been so much worse. Since then I have checked all of the other lines in the house (toilets, sinks and the dishwasher). They were all stainless steel, so we should be in good shape!!

I’d strongly suggest that you take a few minutes to check all of the lines in your house. If not, you may want to replace them. It could save you a lot of trouble down the road…

Tour of new Kensington Real Estate listings 10.21.17

Maybe you didn’t have time to get out and see the new listings this week, well…. here you go. Watch the video to see four new listings with commentary. Need more information? Click below and you’ll get pictures virtual tours and all of the data.
I tried to keep it short, but sometimes I ramble a bit:) If you or someone you know has any questions about these homes, or other properties in Kensington, my contact information is below. I’ll look forward to hearing from you.

 

5233 Strathmore Avenue

3306 Fayette Road

3611 Sandy Court

11409 Cam Court

Harry Moore

Keller Williams Capital Properties

7801 Woodmont Avenue Bethesda MD 20814
Cell-202-362-4663
(O) 240-383-1350
Selected as one of the Washington metropolitan
areas best real estate agents.
I feel that everybody deserves the best possible education. To that end, I contribute my time and 1% of my commissions to the NYAPC Community Club, an organization to help under served public high school students.