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. 

victoriaray.com
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

Buyer Beware.png

 

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

 

 

 

Yoga and Real Estate Plenty of Good Karma to go Around

As Exclusive Buyer Agents with Buyer's Edge, we serve buyers in Northern Virginia, Maryland and Washington D.C. 

Our business model is simple-we serve home buyers 100% of the time in every real estate transaction. Exclusive Buyer Agents work for Brokerages that never take listings. This approach to real estate is consumer oriented and straight forward. I strongly believe this is the best way to serve home buyers in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. 

side crow pose.jpg

 

Yoga is a method or discipline. The ethical and moral codes called yamas and  niyamas are central to  yoga. Since I've been practicing yoga for more than 7 years, I've experienced it's powerful positive force in every facet of my life.  

For one thing, I make a conscious effort to breath deeper and slower. I breathe to slow down my racing mind or to stay calm while driving in hectic traffic conditions. I breathe slower when I'm chatting with people at a party or work gathering. This gives the other person a chance to be heard, which is the most important part of communication. Yoga has changed the way I interact with others. 

Yoga creates an inner dialogue with my body. Some days, I feel like a warrior on my mat. I'm strong and focused. My breath, body, and mind are in sync. I'm grateful for my warrior days because they offset my weak days on the mat. I learn patience on weak days. I've learned to be okay with not being powerful all days and all the time.

The first principle of yoga philosophy is ahimsa. The practice of ahimsa, or non-harming to self and others is life-transforming. No harm means no physical or verbal abuse. This yoga practice has totally transformed my business & personal relationships! It's surprising how challenging ahimsa can be but worth every bit of the effort. 

Satya, or truthfulness, is the second principle of yoga philosophy. While this seems obvious, I discovered some interesting ways that I was not being truthful with myself and others. Again, yoga practice provides the opportunity to go deeper and look at the motivation behind our actions. 

The other Yamas include: Asteya (non-stealing), Aparigraha (non-possessiveness), Brahmacharya (maintenance of vitality)

Yoga Practices for the Niyamas include: Tapas (purification through discipline), Santosha (contentment), Saucha (purity), Svadhyaya (Self-study) and Ishvara Pranidhana (devotion to a higher power)

My yoga practice influences every part of my life. As an exclusive buyers agent, my goal is to provide support, information and guidance in the home buying process. My husband and I work together answering questions, easing nerves and helping buyers achieve their dream of buying a home. If you are a yoga lover, we will have that much more to talk about!

 

Here's a link to Yoga Journal with information on yoga practice for the Yamas and the Niyamas

Great places to practice yoga in Virginia

East Meets West

Pure Om/Fairfax

Spark Yoga

Great places to practice yoga in Washington D.C.

East Side Yoga

Washington Yoga Center

Yoga District

Great places to practice yoga in Maryland

Gold's Gym

Blue Heron Wellness

The Spring Yoga & Natural Health Center

Willow Street Yoga

Beautiful Home and Bad Neighbor

It's the single biggest disappointment-to find a house...

next to a very messy neighbor

My Buyer and I stood in the backyard of a large brick colonial style house near a Metro station. He checked off three major items from his "What My House Must Have" list. 

1. large beautiful backyard backing to trees and then a soccer field

2. brick colonial home classic style, built in the 40's with crown molding, arched doorways and hardwood oak floors

3. walking distance to Metro-everyone in the DC area knows the value of an easy commute. Buying a home near a Metro station is a great find!

VictoriarayHendersontrashyard

So there we were, loving the yard, house, and commute and staring at piles of blue plastic containers that looked like small beer kegs.

There were dozens of them strewn around the neighbors back yard. In one corner of the neighbor's yard, the blue containers were stacked to create a makeshift table covered with piles of paint cans and heavy black plastic. And then we saw the back porch-piled with wet paper boxes. The porch was packed! There was no way to open the back screen door and no space to walk inside.

I pointed out every container and pile of trash in the neighbor's yard. While we were upstairs admiring the master bedroom, I showed my Buyer how much more trash we could see in the neighbor's yard from the bedroom window. Finally, he said, "let's go".

It's not easy walking away from a great house with an awesome backyard. It's especially difficult to walk away when the only problem is the house or yard next door! Just consider this-

A neighbor's yard is an expression of who they are, it's a display of their passion and a reflection of their true personality

Still, think neighbors don't really matter? ReadThe Best Bad Neighbors of 2015 these true stories will scare you into the reality that you cannot change your neighbors.

Moral of the story-

When you want to buy a home,research neighborhoods & communities, review the master planfrom the county and always evaluate the homes and yards adjacent to a house you are touring. 

To learn more about exclusive buyer agents visit

BuyersAgent.com HomesBuyHendersons

and NAEBA.org

Habits of Millennial Home Buyers

Who are Millennials?

Is their approach to buying a home different than Gen X'ers or Baby Boomers? 

Millennials, according to Pew Research, are 18-34 years of age in 2015. These men and women overtake baby boomers as America's largest generation-according to population estimates by the Census BureauImmigration adds more numbers to this group than any other. By the year 2036, Millenial population is expected to peak at 81.1 million

So what are Millennials looking for in a home? Are they confident, city dwellers with expectations that are wildly different from previous home buyers?  

Not really-they have the American dream of owning their own home, just like home buyers before them. Here's a breakdown of the survey done by the Responsive Home Project

  • 83% of Millenials want space in a less populated community
  • 85% of Millenials buy a home to build personal equity
  • 86% of Millenials want outdoor space for entertaining and plenty of space in the home
  • Walkability ranks very high for most Millenial home buyers. They want to be close to parks, grocery stores and schools with community activities close by too. 

Millenials are searching for homes, on their own, more than any other generation of home buyers. Mobile apps make it easy and fun to learn about schools, communities, and home prices in neighborhoods. And finally, Millenials are more likely than other groups to interview several Realtors before choosing someone. 

Buying a home is an expensive adventure...and it should be fun! If you're buying a home or just thinking about getting started, here are a few things to do-

  • Interview several Realtors and trust your gut instinct. Are they listening to you? Will they promptly respond to your texts & phone calls? 
  • Review their Buyer Broker agreement. Can you really break up with them or are you wedded to their company? At Buyer's Edge, you can end your agreement by email. Again, trust your gut before signing with a real estate company.
  • Are they showing you houses & condos that you want to see or houses they want to sell? Remember, you are the one financing this transaction. You deserve to be fully represented by a qualified professional who will guide you through the home buying experience.  

Resources for Home Buyers

The National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents

U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development

Forbes-10 Things You Have to Know Before Buying a Home

NAEBA Strict Code of Ethics

Buyers Edge

Homes Buy Hendersons

Condo or Co-op, what's the difference?

N.W. Washington D.C. view from the roof of a co-op.

N.W. Washington D.C. view from the roof of a co-op.

Condominiums and Cooperatives are different types of ownership. A condominium is a building or complex of individually owned units.

A condominium is owned outright with the owners sharing ownership of common areas like hallways, entryways, and rooftops. 

 

A co-op is a legal entity usually a corporation or cooperative which owns real estate. The corporation is membership based and each member or shareholder is granted the right to own one housing unit. Monthly payments to the co-op are used to pay taxes, in addition to paying other building expenses. In addition, shareholders have elected representatives who screen and select new applicants to the cooperative. 

 Co-op's are very different type of ownership as compared to owning a single family home, townhouse or condo. 

With condo's and co-op's, buyers should check the rules and regulations. 

  1. Are pets allowed? If so, is there a size limit or are only cats allowed and not dogs?
  2. What are the rules regarding remodeling the co-op or condo?
  3. Can you rent out your condo or co-op?
  4. What are the monthly condo or co-op fees and what is covered? 
Cooperatively Speaking, written by Edmund J Flynn Company based in Washington D.C., is a 28 page book. It's an excellent go-to manual on housing cooperatives. This page is a side by side comparison of condo's and co-ops. 

When searching for a condo or co-op in Washington D.C., remember you have a period of 3 business days to review the condo or co-op documents.

These "docs" give a description of the rules and bylaws, the budget, which is very important to review, minutes from previous meetings and a description of special assessments.

As a buyer, you will want to carefully review these documents because you will be buying into this living situation. When you buy a condo you share the maintenance expenses for common areas. When you buy a co-op, you are buying into a community that shares the entire buildings operations. 

Links for more information

Search for a home with Buyer's Edge

Co-op D.C. 

National Association of Housing Cooperatives

Inspection of a Crawlspace

A home inspection is a vital part of the home buying process. We recommend several home inspectors who are licensed, experienced and highly qualified but remember it's always the home buyers choice. 

Last summer, one of our buyers hired a home inspector we didn't know. The inspector, Glenford Blanc, is with Pro-Spex. We were impressed by Glen's knowledge about homes. He patiently answered all of our buyers questions and showed him what was right and wrong with the home. He also uses a drone during home inspections when roofs are too steep to climb.  Pro-Spex made our "cut" and the company, which employs about 8 home inspectors, is now on our preferred home inspectors list. We also recommend Jeff Pearce with The Pearce Group who is licensed in Maryland, Virginia and Washington D.C. In addition to being a licensed home inspector, Jeff has a background in HVAC installation. 

Bobby Mayberry owns RPM Home Inspect. He is licensed in Washington D.C. and Virginia. Bobby stars in our video titled, "Inspection of a Crawlspace" 

Marshall and I enjoy working with Bobby because he goes through the house with our home buyers explaining how everything works. He encourages buyers to ask questions and like our other preferred home inspectors, he provides a detailed home inspection report. If you are buying a home in the Greater Washington D.C area, consider working with exclusive buyer agents with Buyer's Edge. We are licensed in Virginia, Maryland and Washington D.C. and advocate for home buyers through the entire home buying process. 

Bobby Mayberry with RPM inspecting a crawlspace. He recommends conditioning crawlspaces. If you DIY $500 If you hire someone to do the work $1500 a $2000 Buyer's Edge 4849 Rugby Avenue Bethesda, MD 20814 301.657.1475 or 301.922.1677

Thank you for watching our video on the inspection of a crawlspace. Watch other videos on our YouTube Channel and have a great day! 

Our Habits Create Our Destiny

We are what we repeatedly do.

About six weeks ago, one of my longtime yoga buddies started having migraine headaches. She's been to doctors, had cat scans, taken prescription pain medication and had acupuncture treatments. 

She's been miserable but made it to yoga every Sunday. Today, I asked how she was doing and she replied,

"Great! My migraine headaches are gone!"

What happened? Well it turns out, that she tipped her head down and curled her shoulders forward whenever she typed on the computer or texted on her cellphone. In fact, her chin was tipped so low, it almost touched her chest. Her daughter made the observation and asked if she always typed and texted this way and my friend answered, "Yes."

Her daughter snapped a picture and sent it to the doctor who said, "Yes, holding her head in this awkward position for long periods of time could be causing her migraine headaches." A week later, after buying a new desk and chair, her headaches are gone. 

Which brings me to this quote-

We Are what we repeatedly do

My friends' story demonstrates the power of unintentional or unconscious habits. Thanks to her daughters' compassionate observation, my friend changed for the better. 

Her story prompts the questions, 

"What am I repeatedly doing that I should stop doing?"

and

"What could I repeatedly do that would make my life better?"

This TedTalk challenges us to try a new habit-just for 30 days

Buying a Condo in Washington DC

Living within walking distance of work enhances your quality of life. You walk to your favorite coffee shop in the morning, you walk to dinner and the theater at night. Life is sweet. This is the lifestyle in Washington D.C. and we are working with home buyers to find the best condos. Here are a few of the big things you want to consider if you are shopping for a condo in Washington D.C. or in the near suburbs of Virginia and Maryland. 

Capital Hill Washington DC

This is the lifestyle in Washington D.C. and we work with home buyers to help them identify the right neighborhood, building and condo association.  Here are a few of the big things you want to consider if you are shopping for a condo in Washington D.C. or in the near suburbs of Virginia and Maryland. 

This time of year, the market slows down just a little bit. Just enough so you can take a moment to understand what's important to consider when buying a condominium.

  • Buying a condo is much like marrying into a family.Like it or not, you will be making decisions on how to run the building with other condo owners.There is a condo association with a board consisting of other condo owners. These board members make decisions about how to spend the condo association funds. Much like a small business, the board decides how to pay and care for the common living areas when to replace the roof or the elevator. The condo association holds regular meetings and all condo owners follow the rules or bylaws. If this makes you uncomfortable, consider buying a rowhouse or townhouse. You can also search for condo's in smaller buildings and fewer people to deal with.
  • What is included in the monthly condo fee? Your monthly mortgage is only part of the story when you buy a condominium. Look for condo fees that include all or most of the utilities. Condo fees in D.C. can range from $250 to over $1,000 a month. Working with your agent and lender, find the monthly range that fits your budget. Remember, condo fees can and will go up. If there is a special assessment, like replacing the roof or washers and dryers in the common laundry area, it's going to cost you money. 
  • What is the condition of the building and grounds?  In Washington DC, some condo buildings are 100 years old. This is not necessarily a bad thing. The question is, 

How well maintained in the condo building? 

like detached houses, maintenance is the key to quality. As you look at the condo, take a good look at the building. Remember, if you buy a condo in Washington D.C., you have a 3 day review period for the condo documents. This means once you have a ratified contract, the listing agent provides the condo documents for review. Check the budget. Make sure that the condo association is paying bills on time and maintaining the property. How many people are delinquent on their condo fees? Do they have any special assessments? Are there pending lawsuits? Examine the budget and bylaws carefully. You will be living by these rules. Make sure they work for you. 

  • Is the neighborhood near grocery stores and restaurants? Just because you live in the city doesn't mean you can easily walk to grocery stores, retail stores and restaurants. In N.W. Washington D.C., near the Washington Cathedral, there are condo's and coop's tucked away from the conveniences of city living. Near Rock Creek Park,you'll find condo's closer to the woods than to a store. If this is exactly what you want, then this neighborhood in NW Washington D.C. is for you! 

Buying a condo in Washington D.C. is a learning process. We work to educate our Buyers and help them identify the neighborhood, building, and condo that suits their needs. This is fun experience!

It is a beautiful time of year to be shopping for condo's in Washington D.C.!

New Radon Testing Law in Montgomery County Maryland

There's a New Radon Law in Town

 

As of October 1st, 2016, if you are selling your home in Montgomery County, with the exception of the Town of Barnesville, the City of Rockville, the Town of Kensington and the Town of Poolesville,

"a radon test must be performed by the Seller or give the Buyer the opportunity to do the test. If the Buyer chooses not to test, the Seller must perform the test to meet the statutory requirement that a test be performed."

The test may be done by Seller, Buyer or a third party (home inspector) This requirement is contained in Chapter 40 of the County code as amended by the County Bill 31-15

Here is where it gets a little confusing

Some agents are using the old REA Disclosure & Addendum forms.  The old radon notice indicates that the Buyer does the radon testing and provides the results to the Seller. The old notice offers the Seller the option to pay for remediation, if needed, or give a credit to the Buyer. 

What Should You Do?

If you are a home buyer in Montgomery County, make sure your contract includes the updated REA Disclosure & Addendum form. The radon language reads: 

RADON DISCLOSURE:  Effective October 1, 2016, a radon test must be performed before completing the sale of a "Single Family Home" in accordance with Montgomery County Code Section 40-13C. A Single Family Home means a single-family detached or attached residential building. Single-family home does not include a residential unit that is part of a condominium regime or a cooperative housing corporation.  The Seller of a Single Family Home (unless otherwise exempt below) is required to provide the buyer a copy of radon test results performed less than one year before Settlement Date or permit the Buyer to perform a radon test. 

If you are a listing agent representing a Seller in Montgomery County, make sure you use the updated REA Disclosure & Addendum. 

If you are representing the Buyer, make sure you see the updated REA Disclosure & Addendum in the listing disclosures. 

For more information

Environmental Protection Agency

American Cancer Society

Drone Technology for Home Inspections

A great home inspector will tell you what is right and wrong with a house.

Drone

He or she will also use lots of cool gadgets so you, the home buyer, can know as much as possible about a house.

Using a smart phone, the home inspector controls the drone and takes pictures of the roof, chimney and gutters. Our home inspector, Glenford Blanc with Pro-Spex, took many pictures which were used in the home inspection report. 

Looking for a good home inspector? Make sure they are..

What should Buyers expect from a home inspector/inspection?

  • A fair and objective opinion of a home-a home inspector works for you, the Buyer. He or she will not tell you that you should or should not purchase a home. They will give you information so you can make an informed decision. 
  • Answers to all your questions about the home-ask the home inspector how the major systems work. Locate the main water shut-off valve. Ask questions on how to maintain the property. 
  • Depending on the size of the home, the inspection can take between 3 and 5 hours. Plan accordingly. You want to be there so you can learn everything about your new home.