Exclusive Buyer Agents in Takoma Park

When you are buying a home in Maryland, Washington D.C. or Virginia, you hope to buy a home in a vibrant community.

Victoria Ray Henderson best buyers agent



Takoma Park Maryland and Takoma Park Washington DC residents are passionate about their town. For one thing, Takoma Park has counter culture roots. Back in the 60's, Takoma Park looked like a mini version of Haight Street in San Francisco. Funky shops lined the Carroll Avenue, the main street through town. In addition, the Seventh Day Adventist Church had headquarters in Takoma Park for several decades. The Adventist’s vegetarian based diet influenced the town’s restaurants. While the headquarters are no longer in Takoma Park, veggie and vegan style food can be found in the Co-op, restaurants and at the farmer’s markets and the annual Takoma Park Street Festival.

Today, the city still has a grass roots vibe which is evident when you listen to the new radio station, WOWD 94.3. The tree lined streets with Victorians and stately old homes are updated and home prices are on the rise. You can still find some bargains, old homes that need lots of love & work, but many of the older homes are listed in the upper 900's to a million. 

Marshall and I had dinner at Buysboys & Poets, a restaurant and bookstore where local poets and musicians perform on a small stage. It's wonderful to see Takoma Park's positive growth as the community maintains its activist roots. I am very fond of Takoma Park. I went to high school here and my children were born at the Washington Adventist hospital on Carroll Avenue in Takoma Park. It's a great place to raise a family and an easy commute to downtown Washington DC. 

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Top Five Communication Skills Buyer Agents Need

If You Are Buying A Home, Consider Working With An Advocate. Exclusive Buyer Agents naeba.org

VictoriaRayHenderson best buyer agent

Exclusive Buyer Agents-members of NAEBA are dedicated to serving home buyers. 100% of the time and in every real estate transaction.

1. More Listening, Less Talking-as experienced Realtors, we have important information to convey to our Buyer clients. We want to share the good and bad things we discover on a house tour. Since this is what we do and where we shine, it's easy to keep talking and talking. However, keep in mind, clients are processing information too. If we talk more than listen, they may feel oversaturated and begin to tune us out. If we want to make a point, we should, but follow up by asking for their opinion. 

2.  Have Clients Write a Wish List-this is extremely important! Buying a home is an emotional experience. Most of us dream about our "perfect" home. We imagine our families gathering around the fireplace or entertaining friends in spacious surroundings. The best way to make this happen is to write it down! It's so easy to get distracted on house tours. Maintain clarity and focus by checking your wish list again and again. 

3. Pay attention to the Relative/Friend Your Client Brings Along-we may not want to answer questions or listen to the opinion of our clients friend or relatives but remember, they do. That is why they invited them! I am not suggesting we agree with everything someone says but we should treat this person with respect. Be patient as they talk and make their points. If they are dead wrong, we can respectively give our opinion on the matter and let it go. There is no need to move the conversation in an awkward direction just to make our point. 

4. Ask lots of Questions-Do you think this home has curb appeal? Does the kitchen space serve your needs? Do you mind walking up and down 2 flights of stairs to do laundry? You get the idea. What our client thinks-matters. By identifying what they want, we save time and facilitate the home buying process.

5.  Follow Up that Evening or the next Day-After a long day of house hunting, write down the highlights and send your client an email. Let them know what you liked and ask them if they want to make changes to their home search. Try to do this while it is fresh in your mind. Again, this will save you valuable time and validate opinions and concerns your clients made during the home tour. 

These five points can be effectively used in personal relationships too!

Beautiful Houses and Bad Neighbors

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

next to a very messy neighbor

trash in backyard Victoria Ray Henderson best buyer agent.jpg

 

My client 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

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.

 

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 neighbors 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 neighbors yard. While we were upstairs admiring the master bedroom, I showed my Buyer how much more trash we could see in the neighbors 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 neighbors yard is an expression of who they are, it's a display of their passion-a reflection of their true personality 

Still think neighbors don't really matter? Read The 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 plan from the county and always evaluate the homes and yards adjacent to a house you are touring. 

Water is Your Worst Enemy

How To Check a House For Water Problems

water on stairs and building.jpg

 

Earlier this summer, I was with my client on a home inspection. The home was a Baltimore rowhouse on Federal Hill, built in 1900. After discovering that three of the four walls of the house were wet and there was mold in the crawlspace under the kitchen, my client voided the contract. 

The sellers said they were not aware of water issues in the basement and offered a home warranty to the buyer.

However, no home warranty could fix this problem. The moisture in the basement walls had been there long enough to buckle the drywall. The linoleum flooring was peeling up in the corners. And where there was wall-to-wall carpeting, it felt damp to the touch.

We used the walk away option in the home inspection addendum and the home inspector did not charge my clients.

I hope the sellers used the information in the home inspection report to address the serious water issues but we will never know for sure. I did notice the house was back on the market just a few days after we voided our contract. This is one of the main reasons why we, almost always advise our clients to use a home inspection addendum in their offer. In rare occasions, when there is competition for a good condition condominium, we will recommend waiving the home inspection contingency but we still recommend having one for informational purposes.

We will never know if they corrected the water intrusion problem because we walked away from the deal. 

On a home inspection this week, the inspector used a moisture meter on the back wall of the house. The meter turned yellow indicating that some moisture was present. We walked outside to check the grading against the back wall and sure enough, it wasn't done properly. With this property, my client decided to stay in the deal. He plans to properly grade the yard and caulk around the windows to keep moisture out of the home. 

What should you look for while touring houses?

low area next to house.jpg
  • Look at the soil around the base of the house. 

  • You want to see grading that moves water away, not toward the exterior walls.

  • Are there low areas next to the exterior walls like in the picture above? If so, the area needs to be filled with dirt and graded so it slopes away from the house.

  • Are the downspouts directing water away from the home? 

  • If there is a patio or concrete walkway next to an exterior wall, is the seam properly caulked? Anywhere there is a crack or open area between concrete and an exterior wall, there is an opportunity for water intrusion. 

  • Look at the roof. Are the shingles curled? If so, the roof may be old and near the end of its useful life. 

  • Is there a sump pump in the basement? This is good since the pump works to move water from under the house to the outside. 

  • Check under the stairs in the basement. Look for any original or older wood to see if water has wicked up from the floor. 

  • How does the house smell? Moisture has a distinct smell so pay close attention to what your nose is telling you! 

  • Look up! Check the ceilings in every room to see if there are water stains or recent patching.

Beware of flipped properties!

The bad flips always update the kitchen and bathrooms and ignore the HVAC, roof, water heater and electrical panel.

In other words, some flippers focus on what catches a buyers eye. They’ll install granite countertops in the kitchen, subway tile in the bathroom and leave the old HVAC, roof and water heater. In many older homes, flippers will leave the old 100 amp electrical system and opt to save money not installing a heavy up for the house. A heavy up increases the amperage coming into the house at the service panel or electrical box. This means the electrical system in the house can handle the needs of current homeowners today.

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

Ready to downsize?

We became Empty Nester's this week. We dropped our daughter off at college and drove home in a bit of a daze. 

Victoria Henderson downsizing

Danny Zuker, the writer and Executive Producer ofModern Family recently tweeted-

"My twin girls left 4 college this week but I'm trying to stay positive as I start this exciting new chapter of my life where I wait to die."

Marshall and I are feeling a little more positive than Zuker but we do appreciate his sentiment. Our home is a reflection of a life shared with our children.

We now have two empty bedrooms that will stay empty until Thanksgiving break. But for now, we are staying in our 2600 square foot house. It's not too large for the two of us and we want the space when family and friends spend time during the holidays.

Are you ready to downsize?

It's a big step! Here are a few things to consider before you downsize and sell your current home.

  • Will your children need to move back home? We've watched our friends welcome home their children after they've graduated from college. The cost of a college education is ridiculously expensive. Many young people need to move back home to save money.
  • Is it a good time to sell your home?Research home sales in your neighborhood and community. It may make sense to wait a year or two before you sell your home.
  • How will downsizing affect your lifestyle?Entertaining family and friends in a smaller house can be a challenge. If you are downsizing, consider how you use your current home and what habits you would change if you were in a smaller space.
  • Ready for a walkable neighborhood? Many empty nesters are moving to walkable neighborhoods. The idea of walking to a coffee shop or restaurant is very appealing. When you downsize, you have the option of moving to the country or the city. Whatever you feel fits your lifestyle. My friend moved to Washington D.C. and now entertains family and friends at local restaurants. She loves that she has no clean-up after a big family meal!
  • Read Marie Kondo's books! The Life-Changing Magic of  Tidying Upchanged my life. When my mother passed away several years ago, we had to clean out her house. The task would have been overwhelming had I not read Marie Kondo's book. She has written another book titled,Spark Joy a comprehensive manual on how to declutter and organize your home and life. 

Downsizing begins with thoughtful conversations about what matters most in your life. 

Here's Marie Kondo's Tidying-Up Lesson