What to Know for a Pre-Drywall Inspection

A Pre Drywall Walk Through Is One of The Most Important Steps

Of Buying a Brand New Home

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At this stage of the home building process, the Builder or Site Manager walks through the home with the homeowners. The framing, heating and air ducts, electrical wiring, plumbing and possibly tubs and shower pans will be in place. 

Before the drywall is installed, it's easier to make changes to the electrical outlets, lighting, plumbing and/or framing.

 What To Look For in a Pre Drywall Walk Through

  • Take pictures of electrical wiring, plumbing, and air ducts. On a recent pre-drywall walk through with our clients, we asked the Builder to move two recessed lights and an electrical box for a ceiling fan. He agreed. Our client took pictures showing the current location of the lights and electrical box.  The pictures document the conversation.
  • Check placement for electrical boxes in each room. Before the pre-drywall walkthrough, the Builder and home buyer meet for a design meeting.  This is when you decide the location of electrical outlets, ceiling fan wiring and cable lines for your home. During the walkthrough, make sure these items are in the proper location. Now is the time to make changes to things that will soon be covered by walls and ceilings. 
  •  Be sure the air registers are placed properly in each room. All the rooms of the house should have registers. The ductwork connecting the registers shouldn't be dented or blocked in any way. 
  • Your washing machine should have a washing pan.  If the pan is not in place, make sure it's on the Builder's checklist. The pan catches overflows if the washing machine leaks or overflows. 
  • Are the doors, windows and garage doors the style & design you've chosen?  During our pre-drywall walk through with clients last week, we discovered that the Builder installed the wrong patio doors. He agreed to make the correction and we took pictures to document. 
  • Ask the Builder to show you the location of the cleanouts for the plumbing. Sometime in the future, you, or a plumber, will need to access the cleanout. Take notes during the walkthrough so you remember where clean outs are located. 

 

Finally, we recommend hiring a licensed independent home inspector.

This will be an additional cost, but it's well worth the expense. Home inspectors evaluate the foundation, floor, walls, framing, electrical, plumbing, roof structure, windows, doors and rough-in components. The home inspector will answer all your questions and provide a detailed report. 

This inspection would be in addition to, not instead of, the Builder's walkthrough and home inspection.  

Here are more sources for you if you are buying new construction. 

 

American Society of Home Inspectors

National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents

National Association of Home Builders

Residential Performance Construction Guidelines

Completely Remodeled Home - What Does That Mean?

There's an expectation when you see the phrase "completely remodeled" in a home listed for sale.  

Remodel, according to Merriam-Webster dictionary means to change the structure, shape or appearance of something. 

When the phrase "completely remodeled" is used in the description of a listing, many homebuyers expect the entire house to be updated. 

But in reality, a house advertised as "completely remodeled"  could have a number of big-ticket items that are either original or close to the end of their use. In fact, we find this to be true more often than not. So with that in mind...

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Here's what you need to look for when you see the phrase "completely remodeled" in the description of a home.


  • Electrical upgrades- The standard for household power used to be 60 amps. Today modern homes need as much as 200 amps to run all the electrical needs. High definition televisions, computers, air conditioners and home automation devices require lots of power to run. Have a home inspector check the entry cable coming into the house and the electrical panel. If the house has original or outdated wiring, consider upgrading for safety and function purposes. 
  • Roof - Depending on the size of a house and the style of shingles, a new roof can cost between $8000 and $40,000 dollars. The age of a roof is a very important consideration when buying a house. While you are touring the house with your buyer agent, check the roof to see if any shingles are curling. See if there are any cracked or missing shingles. Finally, look for bald spots or areas of the roof where the granules are gone. These are all signs of an older roof. If you move ahead with the purchase of the home, make sure your home inspector gives you an estimate on the age of the roof.
  • Outlets - This falls under the electrical upgrade category but it's important to pay close attention to the electrical outlets in a home. We still see the old-fashioned 2 prong outlets in houses in the Greater Washington DC area. These older outlets do not have the ground wires to protect people and electrical devices in case of a fault. Today's modern houses should have the 3 prong outlets for safety and function purposes. If you're like me and you don't know how to change out these outlets, hire an electrician. 
  • Water Heater & HVAC - Most water heaters have an 8 to 12-year lifespan. If the heater is an A&O Smith or another higher quality water heater, it may last longer. Take a picture of the HVAC label and google it to determine the age. If the unit has been well maintained, there will be a label from an HVAC company with service dates. Again, this can be done when you are touring a home. If you decide to purchase a house and schedule a home inspection, the inspector will determine the age and condition of the HVAC unit and water heater. 
  • Plumbing -  Plumbing problems can be very expensive. When you are touring a house that you like, turn on the faucets to check pressure. Look under sinks for signs of water issues. Look up at the ceiling to see if there are any stains. You can't always see a plumbing problem but it's a good idea to ask the seller if they have a record of plumbing maintenance. 
  • Foundation - Check the basement walls for large cracks or bulges. Look at the house exterior for signs of moisture or cracks. Examine the landscaping to see how well the yard is graded. Water should be moving away from the house, not toward the foundation. Again, this advice is for homebuyers as they tour a property of interest. Once you have a ratified contract and hire a home inspector, he/she should be able to offer excellent advice on the condition of a home. 
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Buyer Agent advice on how to sell your home

What Do Buyer Agents Know About Selling Homes

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Turns out quite a lot!  As Exclusive Buyer Agents with Buyer's Edge, we tour lots and lots of houses. We walk to Metro with our clients to understand their daily commute. We visit farmers markets and local restaurants to get the feel of the community. And we tell our home buyers to write a Needs & Wants List.  On Monday, we took new clients to fourteen houses. We saw colonials, raised ramblers, ranch style ramblers and contemporary style homes. Since we are Exclusive Buyer Agents, we evaluate homes and property with our clients.

In our humble, yet well-traveled opinion, we have advice for home sellers. 

  • Clean Your House-We understand you live in the house you're selling but try to make the bed, flush the toilet and put the dishes away before buyers take a tour

  • Tone Down the Colors-Lime green living room walls may brighten your mood but it's a big turn off to most Home Buyers. Consider painting walls in neutral colors. If you leave the walls as-is, consider touching up colors so they have neat edges along the ceiling and trim.

  • Continuity in Style-We toured a house that looked like the circus had come to town! The kitchen had two different style & color wood cabinets with another wood for flooring. The dining room had yellow wall to wall carpet with gray and yellow walls.  The adjoining family room had orange carpet and beige/brown walls. This "theme" went on and on throughout the house. 

  • Clear Out the Excess-I mean pictures & papers on the refrigerator, tooth & hair brushes on the sink counter and shoes piled in heaps around doorways. If you are moving anyway, why not clear out now?

Some home buyers want a fixer-upper home. They do not mind painting, changing cabinets and fixtures and sanding floors. However, this is not the typical attitude of home buyers in the Washington DC area.  

Home Buyers Want to Fall in Love with a Home
If you are selling your home, why not make it easy for them? 

 

Victoria & Marshall Henderson are Exclusive Buyer Agents with Buyer's Edge a unique real estate brokerage serving home buyers 100% of the time.

We are members of the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents

Licensed Realtors in Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC

Complete Transparency & Loyalty for Homebuyers

 

 

What to Know for a Pre-DryWall Inspection

What to Know for a Pre-DryWall Inspection

Buying new construction? There is much to learn in the pre-drywall home inspection! This inspection gives the home buyer an opportunity to see the electrical, plumbing and framing before the dry wall is installed. 

Read More

Have You Read the Consent for Dual Agency Agreement?

When Dual Agency May Occur

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The possibility of dual agency arises when: a home buyer is interested in a property listed by a real estate broker and the seller's agent and the buyer's agent are affiliated with the same real estate broker. 

 
Here’s the rub...a dual agent does not exclusively represent either the seller or buyer; there may be a conflict of interest because the interest of the seller and buyer may be different or adverse. As a dual agent, the real estate broker does not owe undivided loyalty to either the seller or buyer.
— http://www.mdrealtor.org/Legal/Legal-Hotline/Frequently-Asked-Questions/PostId/17

As a home buyer, you have the choice not to sign a Consent for Dual Agency Agreement. You can choose to work with an Exclusive Buyers Agent and member of the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents. (naeba.org) There are Realtors all over the country who work only for home buyers. We act as advocates for the home buyer who is bringing the money to the table and deserves 100% loyalty & transparency from his/her buyers agent. Here's our Broker talking about dual agency. If you're buying a home, consider working with an Exclusive Buyers Agent. We are unique Realtors advocating for home buyers 100% of the time in every real estate transaction. Marshall & I are in the Greater DC area and would be happy to answer any questions you have about buying a home. 301.922.1677 or Victoria@buyersagent.com

Mortgage Rates Have Dropped to the Lowest Rate in 10 months

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Graph from Urban Turf

Is buying a home a good idea for you, right now?

With mortgage rates at the lowest rate in 10 months, it may be time for you to stop renting and consider buying your own home. As Exclusive Buyer Agents with Buyer's Edge, we specialize in the home buying process. With us, you never sign a  dual agency agreement. We advocate for you from the home search to the settlement! Since we are an Exclusive Buyer Brokerage, we do not have listings to sell. We have access to every home for sale, listed by a real estate brokerage and also homes for sale by owner. 


Freddie Mac reported 3.78% as the average for a 30-year mortage

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We help home buyers in Virginia, Maryland and Washington D.C. Since the market is competitive for condos and single family homes in the District, we suggest meeting with us to develop a clear home tour strategy. This frequently means not waiting to see homes until the weekend. Marshall and I have had success for our buyers by being the first ones into a home when it comes on the market. Being pre-approved, by a local lender, is part of the winning strategy.  For home buyers in Northern Virginia and the Maryland suburbs, the housing market is a little less competitive. Generally, the closer you are to Washington D.C., the more competition for condos and single family homes. 

Search for a home using the search engine at Buyer's Edge. 

Fall is an excellent time to find a home in the Washington & Baltimore area. If you have questions or would like to meet with us to talk about your specific needs, email me at Victoria@buyersagent.com or call 301-922-1677.  We look forward to meeting you!

 

Do You Live in a Historic District in the Nations Capital?

 

Capitol Hill, Blagden Alley, Naylor Court, Fourteenth Street, LeDroit Park, Mount Pleasant, Mount Pleasant, Mount Vernon Square, Mount Vernon Triangle, Shaw, Strivers Section, U Street and Takoma Park

Do you know someone who needs help with home maintenance issues? Here's a great way to help! 

The Historic Preservation Office is accepting applications for their Historic Homeowner Grant Program until the 5th of July. The program grants $25,000 to homeowners in the districts mentioned above and $35,000 to homeowners in the Anacostia District. 

The Historic Homeowner Grant Program was developed for families that need help keeping up their property. If you are a neighbor or community leader who knows someone or some family that needs help pass along this opportunity! 

Here's the link to learn more about the program

and here's a link to the Homeowner's Application

 

The program encourages neighbors to help neighbors and keeps the community engaged in a positive way. Check out Property Quest to learn more about historic districts, landmarks and more. 

It's Important to be Kind but you don't have to be Nice

Our daughter just completed her first year of college. 

 

She is double majoring in Political Science and International Relations so we've spent hours talking about world events and Washington DC politics. But a recent conversation, sparked by a psychology class, fascinated me; the difference between being nice and being kind.

According to Merriam-Webster's online definitions- Kindness is the quality of state of being gentle and considerate. Nice means being pleasant and agreeable. 

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Kindness is a noble trait like honesty, courage, patience and compassion, kindness is a quality admired in others. Practicing kindness can be challenging like when...

 

  • a coworker aggressively expresses his/her political opinions
  • your daughter or son yells that you never listen and you don't understand
  • your dog chews your expensive leather shoes
  • your friend drinks too much at a party, makes a fool of himself and you have to get him home

Practicing kindness, especially when it's a challenge, strengthens the habit. A kind person is loving and giving and acting out of the goodness of their heart. 

Being nice is good at times but if you're too nice, it could be a sign of insecurity or needing approval from others. 

Have you ever been around someone who was nice but you just felt like you couldn't quite trust them?

Whereas when someone is kind it feels genuine and honest.

Trust your gut and remember the golden rule!

Buying a Home in the Washington D.C. Area

The Greater Washington DC area includes Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia

View of National Harbor in Maryland from the Virginia shoreline

View of National Harbor in Maryland from the Virginia shoreline

 

We work with many families who are moving to the area for the first time. If this is you-here is what you need to know before buying a row house, town house, condo, co-op or single family home. 

  • Washington DC is Expensive-you need to make $108,092 a year to live comfortably in DC. That's according to a recent report in theWashington PostA report from Cheat Sheet shows DC ranks third in the nation with households earning $150,000 or more a year. San Francisco and San Diego ranked first and second in the report. 
  • Washington DC is Green-newcomers are surprised at how much green space is in the Greater Washington DC area. Rock Creek Park, is a large green space in the NW section of the District. It was created by an act of Congress in 1890 so there are old trees and undeveloped forest areas. The creek winds from upper Montgomery county to the Potomac River with walking paths and trails alongside the water. Dumbarton Oaks is one of the greatest historic home and gardens in the city. Many locals are pleased to discover this beautiful estate with gardens and walkways in the upper part of Georgetown. My favorite green space in Washington DC is a....

Franciscan Monastery in N.E. Washington DC

Construction of the monastery began in 1856. The monks visited the Holy Land and took measurements of the sites they would reproduce on the grounds. Today, there are beautiful gardens surrounding this historical landmark. If you love green space and awesome architecture-you have to visit this monastery!

  • Washington DC is Cool-despite the stuffy members of Congress and all the blah blah of politics, Forbes magazine ranked DC at the top of America's Coolest Cities in 2014

I know, I was a little surprised too but I'll take it! After all, the city has excellent dining, entertainment and shopping. For the outdoorsy types, there is kayaking and boating on the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay and hiking and camping nearby in Shenandoah National Park, Skyline Drive and Cunningham Falls! 

In short, we've got it going on! 

Relocating to Washington DC or moving across town? We can help. We are exclusive buyer agents with Buyer's Edge, serving Home Buyers in Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC.

Dual Agency & Exclusive Buyer Agents

Exclusive Buyer Agents represent buyers 100% of the time

never sellers

Kiplinger magazine reports: Unlike traditional agents, EBA’s don’t work for listing brokers, so they avoid the risk of dual agency - when one broker represents both parties. EBAs are still paid by the seller, but they can promise to represent your interests exclusively throughout the transaction and help you negotiate the lowest price.
— https://goo.gl/R78ois

 

Exclusive Buyer Agents are fiduciaries of home buyers with no conflicts of interest and loyalty to the home buyer in every real estate transaction.

Buyer agency is a real estate business model dedicated to buyer representation. Buyer Brokerages never take listings and never work for sellers. 

Learn more about Exclusive Buyer Brokerages

National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents

Consumer Advocates in American Real Estate

in the Washington D.C. area

HomesBuyHendersons.com

Last November, the California Supreme Court ruled unanimously that a listing agent who participated in a 2007 sale of a Los Angeles home owed fiduciary responsibilities to the buyer as well as the seller because both the buyer & seller were represented by the same brokerage. Realtor magazine says the case could have widespread implications for the real estate industry when it comes to dual agency. 
 

Buyers & Sellers need to understand real estate laws and regulations in their state before they enter into an agreement with a real estate professional. 

Feng Shui

Feng Shui your Home

for happiness, health & prosperity

 

Last Thursday evening, Buyer's Edge hosted a feng shui party. Our guest, Jayme Barrett, author of the book, feng shui your life came from Santa Monica California to offer advice on how to improve our home environment.  

Most people have heard of feng shui, pronounced fung shway, but may not know what it is or how it can improve your life. So first, a definition:

feng shui:  translates as wind & water in English. It is a Chinese philosophical order that harmonizes people with their surrounding environment. Feng shui is linked to Taoism and dates back 3500 years before the invention of the magnetic compass. Feng shui relied on astronomy to find a correlation between humans and the universe. Feng shui involves Qi, pronounced chee, the positive and negative life forces and the orientation of structures & objects.

Jayme Barrett is a popular speaker in Los Angeles and around the world. She spoke about feng shui on the Today Show with Campbell Brown and is a contributor to HGTV.  We were pleased and honored to have her come to our Bethesda Maryland office

Feng Shui Basics from Jayme Barrett

  • Declutter your space - This is where you start. In order to add feng shui elements to your home or office, you need an organized space. Start small, like with the surface areas in your kitchen. Are there piles of papers and various items on your counters? Find a "home" for everything.

For example, I have a large hook that is attached to one of my kitchen cabinets. This hook is for everyone's keys. When guests come to visit overnight or longer, their keys go on the hook too. This is a simple way to avoid the frantic search for car keys when you are leaving the house.

  • Bring nature indoors - Feng shui is about balancing the energy in your space. By bringing plants indoors, you energize your living space. Plants uplift and harmonize the energy in a living space. When you need more energy in your workplace or home, add a plant. Look for plants like peace lilies, ficus trees, bamboo, and philodendrons to energize your space. 
  • Add wind chimes and/or music - Sound vibration is very powerful. Wind chimes offer a calming sound effect and soft music can do the same. 
  • Add a water feature - Feng shui literally translate to wind-water. Consider adding a pond or small water feature in your home. Water fountains invite nature indoors and create a sense of well-being and ease. Adding an aquarium to your home is suggested to increase your wealth and good luck. This explains why you see aquariums in many Chinese restaurants. 
  • Crystals - Crystals refract light and move energy. Crystals will stimulate stagnant corners, where negative energy can collect. Crystals also soften sharp edges in a room defusing any negative energy that may linger in a home or work space.
  •  Scented candles - Adding scented candles boost energy in a room and provide relaxation. Be sure to choose soy candles since these will provide clean non-toxic scents into a room. 

Bring light into every room - This is obvious but light, particularly sunlight, will increase positive energy and lifts the overall energy of a room. Light inspires ideas and improves your mood.  When buying light bulbs, be sure to purchase the full spectrum type of bulb. Full spectrum bulbs simulate sunlight. 

The feng shui points I've highlighted are easy first steps in feng shui. Consider reading more about feng shui and how it can improve the quality of your life. You can purchase Jayme Barrett's book here or learn more about feng shui from other authors

The Zillow Zestimate and Home Values

The Zillow Zestimate and Home Values

When you are buying a home, Zillow is a great place to see properties. Everything displays in the first page of a search. The school ratings, the house history, tax information and even a list of lenders and real estate agents who can help you buy the home.

 

The question is, how accurate is the information on Zillow? Who are the real estate agents and lenders next to the picture of the house? 

According to Wikipedia, Zillow has stated that they are a media company that generates money by selling advertising on their website. 

As an Exclusive Buyer Agent,  we frequently work with home buyers who love gathering information from home search sites.

As a home buyer, it's good to use Zillow or other home search sites in addition to working with a Realtor. A Realtor will have access to the Multiple Listing Service which is the source of listing information.  By cross-referencing houses of interest with the MLS information, you can determine if a house is actually for sale. 

The Zillow Zestimate is only an estimate. It does not accurately determine the value of a home. Why? 

  1. A computer algorithm with automated valuation models has no real way to take the condition of the inside of the property into consideration

  2. Pricing algorithms generate a range or prices, not a specific sales price. Zillow's sampling error is + or - 7.5% 

  3. To ovecome, the Zestimate, show your seller other AVM's and the prices they generate. Inman News suggests HomeSnap. You take a picture of a home, using GPS on your phone, and HomeSnap generates a price

  4. CoreLogics ePropertyWatch is a service you sign up for to generate a home price. You must verify you are the owner of a property. You will then get foreclosure and auction information, via email, about properties in your neighborhood. 

  5. Finally, Moveup.com lets you see the properties being considered as comps. You can adjust their algorithm's to allow changes for property condition and other value conditions. 

Inman News offers an excellent example of how the Zestimate works. The author selected a house in a neighborhood where she used to live. The Zestimate of that house $443.000. EProperty Watch gave the value $332,000 and HomeSnap $422,000. Moveup put the price of $494,000 on the property. 

That's a $162,000 difference for the value of a specific home!

You can have success by doing your research and working with an experienced Exclusive Buyer Agent. Exclusive Buyer Agents work for Brokerages that do not list homes for sale. This means there is no "in-house" inventory to "sell you". Exclusive Buyer Agents will show you all the houses of interest with no incentive or reason to push you toward one house or another. If you are in the Greater Washington D.C. area, we can help you find your home. If you are elsewhere in the country, go to NAEBA.org to find an Exclusive Buyer Agent near you. 

Enjoy your house hunting adventure this Spring!

Is That Flipped House a Flop House?

The Market is Hot and Investors are Flipping Houses

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Flipped houses can be great IF the flippers hired licensed contractors to do the structural, electrical, plumbing and the major changes in a home. If you're checking out a flipped property, ask to see the permits for work completed. If the workers didn't pull the proper permits, consider turning around and walking away. 

Steve Carpenter-Israel, Broker & Owner of Buyer's Edge was quoted in a recent CNBCinterview about a flipped house that was a flop. Steve said, " It's literally putting lipstick on a pig. "They're just doing cosmetic stuff and actually covering up problems, and that's scary because it's very difficult to figure it out."

Steve Carpenter-Israel, Marshall Henderson & Stephen Mercer are members of the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents (naeba.org)

Last month, NAEBA warned about the dangers of buying a flipped house.

At a recent home inspection of a flipped property in Baltimore, our inspector turned on all the water to check the pressure. I followed him into the living room as he continued with his inspection. As he turned an infrared camera to the ceiling, he yelled,  "Oh (expletive)" and I looked up to see water stains forming along the crown molding of the living room ceiling!

Buyer Beware!

  • If you are buying a flipped property, ask if the flipper used licensed contractors to do the major work
  • Work with an experienced real estate agent. Your buyer's agent will be looking for what is wrong with a house as much as what is right with a house. 
  • Hire an excellent home inspector. An inspector will evaluate electrical, plumbing and the structural elements of a home. If there are major issues, a good inspector will find them.
  • If you have a chance to talk to the neighbors, do so! One day I was checking out the backyard of a home for sale. I chatted with a neighbor who told me how the previous owner (the owner who sold the house to a flipper) struggled for years with a wet basement. Once inside the home, I saw the flippers had installed not one but two sumps pumps. They had also installed an interior french drain .  My client moved ahead with the home inspection and the inspector determined the work was done well and the basement would stay dry. 

For more information on Flipped houses, townhouses & condos

CNBC-Why your flipped house may be a flop

5 Mistakes that make house flipping a flop

 4 Keys to Buying a Flipped House

 

How To Buy A Home in a Competitive Market

House Hunting in the Spring Market? Get ready for the competition.

The Spring market came early to the Greater Washington DC area. In fact, throughout the winter in the District, there has been competition for condos and single family homes.

We competed against 8 other buyers for a 900 square foot condo in N.W. Washington in December. One of our colleagues competed with 11 buyers for a single family home in Arlington Virginia. Both of us were successful and our buyers are very happy with their new homes. 

Success in a competitive market is part luck, part strategy & part timing. 

With this in mind, here are some tried and true strategies for... 

How to buy a home in a competitive market

  • Find an excellent real estate agent who responds to your emails, texts & phone calls

It takes a team to buy a home. You, the home buyer, are the team captain. Your real estate agent, lender, and settlement attorney are on Team (your name) I am always surprised to meet new clients who tell me their previous agent didn't call them back. What? A real estate agents business is service and if you are chasing them down, don't bother! Your agent should always respond in a timely fashion. How are you going to be competitive if you can't get into a house? 

Inventory in the Greater Washington DC & Baltimore area continues to be low. According to the Washington Post, January was the 9th consecutive month of declines in year-over-year inventory levels in the DC area. What's a home buyer to do? 

  • Check the Multiple Listing Updates every day.

Do not rely on real estate advertising sites for current information. These sites are not required to keep their information accurate and up to date.

The MLS is a repository for all homes for sale listed by real estate brokerages. This is the "mother ship" and all other real estate sites get their information from the MLS. 

  • Be pre-approved for a home loan & work with a local lender

Why a local lender? Because they understand the local market and work with local real estate agents. Short story:  We had a buyer who wanted to use her cousin as her lender. Her cousin was a lender in another state almost 300 miles away. The out-of-state lender had never written a home loan for a house on well & septic. It was a VA loan and the lender did not contact the proper people in Virginia so-the loan was not approved by the underwriters. Fortunately, we had a relationship with a local lender who literally saved the day! He took over the loan process and had our buyers in their new home within 20 days! This is nothing short of a miracle considering most loans take at least 30 days. 

Moral of the story: Use a local lender when buying a home. 

  • Write down your "can't live without" list. 

This is one of the most important lists you will write in your life. I'm not kidding. Your "can't live without" list includes the dreams you've had about home ownership. My list included a fireplace because I pictured my children's stockings hanging there at Christmas and warm nights with my family reading books by the fire. This is a serious list!  And most important, it's personal. There's no right or wrong with what is on this list but you have to write it or you may miss an important part of your dream. 

  • Drive and walk the neighborhoods where you may want to live. 

The people you see may soon be part of your life and your children's lives too. How does the community feel? Do people take care of their yards and houses? This is a chance to feel the vibe of a place. Does it feel right to you? 

  • Gather information about the local schools. 

GreatSchools.org is an excellent place to start but do more than that if you are weighing what neighborhood and school will fit your needs. Call the school and ask if you could set up a tour. Go to a local community or civic organization meeting. This is where you will hear what's happening in a community.

  • Finally and most important, make sure your credit and finances are in good shape. 

A good local lender will check your credit and discuss what loan options are best for you. Once again, this lender, your real estate agent and the settlement attorney all work on your behalf. They are Team (you)! Providing quality service should be their highest priority.

Remember, you, the buyer, are financing this transaction. You deserve 100% protection and loyalty throughout the entire process.

And by the way, it should be fun. Of course, it's a little scary but most things worthwhile are at first. 

 

More information on How to Buy a Home

Suze Orman Four expensive home buying mistakes

Warren Buffett thinks you should buy a home

Buying a home in 2017? Here's what to expect

 

Maryland Ranks in Top of Best States to Live in Nation

According to U.S. News & World Report

Maryland is ranked 8th best state to live in the Nation

     

 

 

 

The "Best State" ranking looks at major elements like the economy, healthcare, education, crime and government. Maryland State Governor, Larry Hogan, is a former real estate agent. He looked happy and proud when he told a crowd,

"This should be good for Maryland real estate."

Here's a video of Governor Larry Hogan making the announcement at a meeting with commercial real estate women. This is shared from his FaceBook page.

Governor Larry Hogan's Facebook Page

Maryland is #5 in U.S. News rankings for education and opportunity. 45% of Marylanders are college educated. 

Maryland is home to the Chesapeake Bay & the Baltimore Orioles.  

Francis Scott Key wrote 'The Star Spangled Banner" in Baltimore's Inner Harbor during the War of 1812. 

Maryland is one of the original 13 colonies, named a state back in 1788.  If you have the chance to visit downtown Annapolis, Maryland's capital, you'll see Colonial-era architecture. St. John's College, founded in 1696, is the oldest college in Annapolis. It's next door to the Naval Academyfounded October 1845.  

Marylanders have a unique state flag! Founded as an English colony in 1634, the black and gold represent the Calvert family. The red and white design is associated with the Crossland family.  

Marylanders love to wear the state flag! You can buy Maryland flag pants, shirts, scarves, gloves even underwear! 

Of course, we have to give a shout out to our neighbors to the north. They did, after all, rank a little higher on the U.S. News & World Report "Best States" rankings. 

 

Congratulations to our New England neighbors.

 New Hampshire came in second place and Massachusetts #1 in overall rankings. 

 

Visiting Maryland

 

U.S. Naval Academy

Historic Annapolis

Baltimore's Inner Harbor

National Aquarium in Baltimore

Orioles

Baltimore Ravens

Maryland Outdoors

The Best Time to Schedule a Home Inspection

Best Time for a Home Inspection is when it's Raining

Exclusive Buyer Agents schedule home inspections when it rains

 

When rain and thunderstorms are in the forecast it's time to schedule your home inspection. In fact, day two or three of heavy downpours are the very best time to get into a home and specifically, into the basement. 

When it rains, we tour! There is so much to learn about a house when it's wet! 

In Washington D.C., many of the row houses, town houses, and single family homes are over 100 years old.  

Most of these old homes have stone or brick foundations with no waterproofing materials below ground. Back in the day, a basement was a cellar or storage area. Many of the lower level family rooms, created over the last few decades, are damp with old paneling and dropped ceilings. Even with a sump pump or french drain system, basements can retain moisture behind drywall or paneling. 

The beauty and charm of an older home is in the detailed architecture, not in the basements. 

Touring a House on a Rainy Day?  Check For -

  • A musty or damp smell is a sign that there is moisture in a home. Look for signs of mildew and moisture. If walls are paneled, look for signs of water wicking at the bottom of paneling or drywall. Using a flashlight, check for water wicking around the staircase. 
  • Look for original materials; wood, brick, cinderblock. If there are signs of water wicking, the house has a history of water issues. 
  • If the home has been flipped or remodeled, ask if they used a mold and mildew resistant drywall. In a basement, is there a subfloor? This would allow an air gap or moisture barrier between the new floor and the original basement floor. 
  • Look around the electrical panel for signs of rust or moisture. Remember-never put your hands near the wiring around panels or electrical boxes! 
  • In addition to water issues, radon can be a problem. Ask for a radon test, if you are buying a home. Radon is an odorless, colorless gas that can be deadly. Learn more about Radon on the EPA's website 

Links for more resources:

EPA

This Old House

HomesBuyHendersons

Buyer's Edge

National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents

An exclusive buyer agent, a member of the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents, follows ethical standards that surpass legal and industry standards

Not just buyer agents, exclusive buyer agents. There's a difference. Learn why financial consultants and experts, like Suze Orman, recommend home buyers work with a member of NAEBA. 

 

Does Crown Molding add Value to a Home

Home Buyers Love Crown Moulding

In neighborhoods in and around Washington DC, you will find a wide variety of house styles. Some are historic and charming and others could use some updates like new kitchens, bathrooms and crown moulding!

Crown moulding is a strip of wood along the wall and ceiling. It's the finishing touch in beautiful homes. Since I am a little crazy for crown moulding, I always look for it when I am going on house tours. It's easy to spot in Georgetown and established neighborhoods in Washington DC but less common in homes, like mine, built in the early 60's. Less common until today, when my husband and son bonded over a mitre saw and cut and fit crown moulding in our living & dining area, hallway and entry hall.

CliffMarshall install crown molding.jpg

I am incredibly happy!

What a difference a strip of wood makes! Crown moulding brings rooms together in an understated way. It's an inexpensive way (especially when your husband & son do the labor) to add elegance to your home. 

If you are updating your home to sell or looking to buy a home, updates make a difference! Realtor.com recently surveyed home buyers and found most want updated kitchens with new appliances and granite counter tops. Last summer, we gutted our bathrooms and ditched our 60's green tub. Today we love our white tiles, white tub and freshly painted blue walls. (we used Benjamin Moore Fiji-awesome

As Exclusive Buyer Agents with Buyers Edge, we evaluate properties with buyer clients. Licensed Realtors in Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC and members of the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents, we are advocates for home buyers. 

Buying a home in Silver Spring Maryland

Silver Spring is unincorporated and covers more than nine and a half square miles. The southern part of downtown Silver Spring borders Washington DC.

Metro's Red line has a stop in downtown Silver Spring with convenient Red Line stops at Forest Glen, Wheaton and Glenmont. Sligo Creek, Northwest Branch and Rock Creek are waterways in and around Silver Spring. Older established neighborhoods have high walkability scores and plenty of charm. Woodside & Montgomery Hills are two older neighborhoods. The median single family home price is 572K. Woodmoor and Indian Springs neighborhoods are "outside the beltway"with single family home prices starting in the low 500's. 

Typical home styles in Silver Spring include;  brick Colonial, Rambler, Arts & Crafts, Victorian, Foursquare and Tudor. There are also condos and townhomes in downtown Silver Spring. Single family home prices near downtown Silver Spring start in the mid 500's. Homes for sale in the Forest Glen, Wheaton and Glenmont neighborhoods start in the high 300's to 400's.

Silver Spring is the fourth largest city in Maryland after Baltimore, Columbia, and Germantown.  

Exclusive Buyers Agents are members of the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents (naeba.org). Licensed Realtors in Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC, advocates for buyers in every transaction.

Victoria Ray Henderson is Vice President & Associate Broker with Buyer's Edge

Marshall Henderson is an Exclusive Buyers Agent with Buyer's Edge

4849 Rugby Avenue Bethesda MD 20814

office 301.657.1475 cell 301.922.1677