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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Completely remodeled home, what does that mean?

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

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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... 

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. 

  • Completely Remodeled is a red flag phrase for buyer agents. The first thing we do is go into the basement to check the HVAC system. We look for signs of water intrusion. Outside, we walk the perimeter of the house looking for low spots near the foundation. Any place that is not sealed is a place where water can get into the home and compromise the basement and/or foundation. We are not home inspectors! We are simply advocates for home buyers. We always look for what’s wrong and what’s right with a property.

HomesBuyHendersons

Buyer's Edge

National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents

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

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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. 

Consider the Not So Perfect House

When we were looking for our home, I had a vivid mental picture of what it would look.

My dream home did not include shag carpet and a kitchen with formica countertops. 

Pig at Maryland State Fair with best buyers agent



House after house, I kept looking for my perfect dream home. Working with our exclusive buyer agent, we determined that a well constructed home was our top priority. We did not want a “McMansion” with low quality materials and craftsmanship. We focused on older homes in established neighborhoods where homes were built with brick with hardwood floors on every level.

The first day I saw our house, I walked out saying, "Nope!" The second time, my exclusive buyers agent pointed out all the positives-

brick construction

hardwood floors throughout

backyard backs to woods & looks like a private park

on a cul-de-sac in an established neighborhood with trees 

fireplace

3 full bathrooms

I walked out of my house again but this time, my husband and I discussed the possibilities. We loved the brick construction, hardwood floors and beautiful backyard and neighborhood. 

I couldn't see past the ugly chandeliers, shag carpet and dingy older windows.

The house was stuck in the 70's with a real "Brady Bunch" vibe.

After lots of talking and lamenting about "the perfect house" we bought our home. We've lived here for 22 years-and absolutely love it! Why? Because our house has good bones. We replaced the original casement windows with larger Anderson windows. In the family room, we removed the old sliding glass door and louvered windows. My husband, Marshall installed french doors with beautiful floor to ceiling windows on either side.

The floors were refinished and the entire house was painted. We replaced the old chandeliers with beautiful Pottery Barn style lighting.

Photo by  rawkkim  on  Unsplash

Photo by rawkkim on Unsplash

Consider the "not so perfect house" when you find a house that meets your criteria that cannot change. This would include things like;

 Is the neighborhood a good fit for you and your family?

Does the daily commute work for you? Is the home built well with solid construction? 

If a homes needs paint and updated kitchen and bathrooms but is otherwise perfect-give it consideration. My personal home buying experience is no different from many home buyers today. We've all watched way too much HGTV and want, what we want, right now! But if a house has true potential, and needs mostly cosmetic updates, it could become your dream home. 

My grandfather used to say;  "You Can't Make a Silk Purse from a Sow's Ear"

 In regard to home construction, this phrase means if something is not built well with solid materials and skilled craftsmanship, it’s not going to be a quality home. We see poorly constructed homes all over the Greater DC area. Many times, these homes will have new granite counter tops, wall -to wall carpet and maybe updated bathrooms.

But the truth is, if the bones of a house are no good-it's a sow's ear! 

HomesBuyHendersons

Buyer's Edge

National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents

U.S Department of Housing



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

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

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!

 

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. 

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

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. 

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