The Dual Agency Agreement and Why You Shouldn't Sign It

When Dual Agency May Occur

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The possibility of dual agency arises when a home buyer is working with a real estate agent who's Brokerage is also listing the property they want to purchase. This means the real estate Broker/Brokerage who has agreed to list a property for a seller is now working with the buyer of that same property. Remember, the Broker already has a fiduciary agreement with the seller of the home.

As a home buyer, you can choose not to sign a Consent for Dual Agency Agreement.

 

You can work with an Exclusive Buyers Agent who is an advocate for you, the home buyer. Exclusive buyer agents are members of the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents. (naeba.org) Exclusive Buyer Agents are Realtors who work for Brokerages that do not list homes for sale so there is no dual agency agreement. 

When both the buyer and seller have agents working for the same Brokerage, both clients are being represented by the same Brokerage. This creates a potential conflict of interest, particularly for the home buyer. In addition, the Brokerage collects double the commission creating a situation where one Brokerage can list & sell a property. As the home buyer, do you see how this could work against your best interests?

  • Is your agent showing you all the available properties that meet your criteria or are they pushing their Brokerage's in house inventory?

  • Is your agent providing the best guidance on how much to offer for a home particularly if their Brokerage is listing the property?

  • Is your agent sharing insights and strategies that will be an advantage to you, the home buyer?

  • Is your agent looking for the best price and terms for you? How likely is this to happen if the Brokerage already has an agreement with the home seller to work for their best interests?

  • Is your agent protecting your contractual contingencies and always keeping your best interests in mind?

An Exclusive Buyer Agent offers a level of protection and dedication not available under other types of real estate agency.

By the virtue of their fiduciary relationship with the home buyer, Exclusive Buyer Agents will disclose information to the buyer that materially affects a buyer’s best interests, even if that information is detrimental to the seller! The listing agent cannot make such disclosures and must remain loyal to the seller. This is why buying a home from the local "neighborhood specialist" may not be in your best interest.

Remember, your best interest are not being considered if you consent to a straight dual agency agreement. This is when the agent representing the seller agrees to "work" with you to buy the listing. This type of dual agency is illegal in every other profession.

Can you imagine a lawyer coming into a courtroom with the plaintiff and turning to the defendant and saying, "Hey, I can represent you in this case too!" Of course not, this is absurd!  

Exclusive Buyer Agents will work as your advocate, offering advice so you can make an informed decision. Exclusive Buyer Agents have no "in-house" listings to push and no reason to talk you into buying any particular home. Call us so we can discuss your needs and where you want to live in the Greater Washington D.C. or Baltimore areas. We love what we do and look forward to making your home buying experience as smooth as possible. 

Cellphone 301.922.1677 Work phone 301.657.1475 or Email: Victoria@buyersagent.com

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

Make a Resolution to be a Better Person

Being a better person is #5 on the list of New Year's resolutions for 2019.

That’s according to a new Marist poll which also finds that most Americans are optimistic about the future.

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The resolution, to "be a better person" seems easy but can be a challenge if you don't have a plan. According to Psychology Today, 40% of Americans will make a New Year's resolution. Many of us will slip in the first month but it's the planning and your attitude that determine success. 

I've had the most success with New Year's resolutions when I keep them simple. In fact, setting realistic resolution goals is a sure way to guarantee success.

I write down my resolutions and review them throughout the month of January. Through the years I've had some success keeping my resolutions.

In fact, several New Year's resolutions are now habits. They are so simple and after years of practice, they've created positive change in my life. 

Take a look and see if any of these resolutions resonate with you. I wish you a happy and successful New Year! 

  • Say Thank You - My husband is a great cook. He makes homemade pizza, all our holiday pies, Indian curries and great tacos! I am so grateful and amazed by his talent that I say thank you! As it turns out, this just encourages him to make more good food! So saying thank you, in this case, has served me well. Consider saying thank you to the grocery store checker, the waiter/waitress, the person collecting money for the Salvation Army. Every chance you have to say Thank you creates a habit of gratitude. 

  • Create a Daily Positive Mantra - Louise Hay was a motivational author who created the Hay House publishing company. I listened to her podcasts for years and practice the following mantra she created; I am open and accepting to the abundance and good the universe has to offer and I thank you life. 

  • Respond instead of React - Responding to a person or an event keeps me in control. Reacting to a person or event gives my power away. There are times when you have to react, like a flight/fight situation. But most of the time, it's a good idea to take a breath and give a measured response to a situation. 

  • Practice Yoga & Meditation -   Yoga and meditation go hand in hand. Even if you're someone who says, "I'm not flexible" or "I can't keep my mind quiet for meditation" just give it a try. When I first tried yoga, I couldn't do one chaturanga ( a yoga move where you slowly lower your body from a plank position to the ground) My first meditation lasted 3 minutes! If you want to try a free guided meditation, Oprah & Deepak Chopra offer online guided meditations several times a year. This is a great kick-start to a meditation practice. There are also plenty of free meditation apps. Find what works for you! 

    Looking for a home in the new year? We are here to help! Exclusive Buyer Agents advocate for home buyers in every real estate transaction. Learn more about us-NAEBA.org

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. 

Exclusive Buyer Agents-100% commitment to home buyers

Proud members of NAEBA serving home buyers in Virginia, Maryland & Washington D.C. with Buyer’s Edge




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. 

Decorative Window Bars and Grilles

Secure Your Home With Attractive Window Bars and Window Gates 

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There are thousands of condominiums in Washington D.C. and we have seen plenty of them! We've toured 550 square foot condo's and 2000 square foot condo's with one and two levels. So many different buildings and styles, there is no generic condo style or building in Washington D.C. 

Condo's and Co-op's offer housing for home buyers who want to live where they work, in Washington D.C. 

Our super cool clients have discerning taste and we finally found their dream condo! We were pleasantly surprised to find a condo with a brand new kitchen, two full new bathrooms and a beautiful master bedroom and bonus room to use as an office. 

It is the most beautiful basement condo we've ever seen in the District

Large windows in the living room and master bedroom allow ample natural light to stream into the living space. 

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~Final Detail~

decorative window bars, grilles & gates 

Our creative homebuyers went through Pinterest and Google images of window bars and window gates.   

They drew up their own design,

NorthEast Ironworks Inc

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constructed the window bars, door gates and grilles. Outstanding work! NorthEast Ironworks slogan, Dedicated to creating works of Art  and for 60 years, they have worked to create beautiful window bars and grilles in Washington D.C. and the surrounding metro area. 

 When we started our search for attractive bars, all we saw were ugly prison style window bars. When our homebuyers suggested designing window bars, we were not sure we would find a company that would take on our project-but NorthEast Ironworkscame through! 

Moral of the Window Bar, Grille & Gate Story 

Persevere-Go the extra mile-Create your own design-Believe in your dream...

&

Find a really good ironworks company that does excellent work 

give them an easy template to follow

and see your design become a reality

The window bars designed by our homebuyers are simple and attractive. The design allows easy open and close features. The window bars are open during the day when our clients are home and locked and closed when our clients are away at work or on vacation. 

If you are buying a home in Washington D.C. and need window bars and grilles, consider creating your own design. Contact professional ironworkers and get estimates. For more details about window bars, grilles and door gates-use the links below. With a little planning, you can create a beautiful design that will enhance the beauty of your home.

We wish you much success in your window bar and grille design efforts

 

NorthEast Ironworks

Mickeys Ironworks

Buyer's Edge

HomesBuyHendersons

National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents 

Why You Need a Pre-Drywall Inspection

Buying a brand new home?

Consider having a pre-drywall home inspection 

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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. Our home buyers plan to hang large flat screens on the wall in several rooms. They asked the builder to add extra support to the framing. We saw the extra wood/support and our buyers checked that off their to-do list!

  • 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 in 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 walkthrough, we noted that several doors still needed to be hung. We went to the garage where the crew had stored the doors and made sure they matched.

  • Ask the Builder to show you the location of the clean outs 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. In the picture above, you can see all the plumbing for the master bathroom shower. Having pictures of what's behind the walls will come in handy if/when there is a leak or other issue.

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. Consider having a radon inspection. Radon is an odorless colorless naturally occurring gas which is the product of decaying radium. In Montgomery County Md, the sellers are required to do a radon test and provide the results to the home buyer. Radon exposure has been linked to lung cancer. So again, consider having a licensed home inspector test your new home for radon.

 

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

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Thinking About Buying a Fixer-Upper?

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Here are a few major points to consider before you buy a fixer-upper.

Time had stopped in a house we toured last week.

The in-house speaker system was original and installed in 1958. All the bathrooms had original tile, sinks, and tubs. The kitchen had original cabinets and only the refrigerator had been replaced. The basement had asbestos tiles on the floor and a swingin' Rat Pack style bar that took up an entire wall. 

How much do you think it would cost to fix this place up? 

Many home buyers love the character, craftsmanship, and detail found in an older home.  But before you buy a fixer-upper, seriously consider the following questions.

  • What projects can you do yourself? Is the house built prior to 1978? Do it yourself projects can quickly grow and take up more time than you planned. If the house is built prior to 1978, it's likely lead-based paint is on the walls, window trim, and doors. If you're removing walls or making any major changes on an older home, you'll need to hire professionals to do the work. Lead paint and asbestos removal is not cheap!According to Home Advisor, it can cost between $200 and $700 to hire professionals to do this type of work. 

  • Will the house need an electrical heavy up and updating for outlets & switches? Most houses today include a 200 amp electrical service. This allows homeowners to run as many circuits as needed. Older homes may have only 100 amp service which is often not enough electricity for homeowners needs today. A licensed electrician should be hired to do a heavy up which usually costs between $1500-$2500. If you're handy, you may be able to replace old outlets with GFI protected outlets but this work takes skill and you'll want to be sure to turn off the main power before doing any electrical work. 

  • What is the condition of the roof, structure & foundation? Depending on the size and condition, roof replacement can be expensive. If the roof is near the end of it's useful life, adjust your offer to reflect the cost of replacement. If there are foundation issues, seriously consider walking away! To avoid buying a house with foundation problems, spend time examining the exterior and interior walls.  Last spring, we found large, jagged cracks along the brick foundation of an older home. In the basement of the home, the wall bulged from the cracks in the wall. This is an expensive problem! If you have any questions about the foundation of a property, hire a structural engineer. 

  • Give serious consideration before you waive a home inspection. With the exception of an almost new condominium, we have never advised our buyers to waive a home inspection. We have, in competitive situations, done a pre-offer home inspection. This is done when there are multiple offers on a property and you want to write a contract offer that is not contingent on the home inspection. 

Remember, hire professionals to thoroughly evaluate a home. If the house is on well & septic or has a pool, these should be inspected by a professional. The more you can learn about your investment, the more confident you can be in moving ahead with the purchase. 

#1 Way Real Estate Agents Get Sued

Real Estate Agents are required to take continuing education classes to keep their licenses active. 

At the Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors otherwise known as GCAAR, we have an ethics instructor who is a lawyer. He's acted as general legal counsel for the Maryland Association of Realtors since 1984. 

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 Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

 

The stories he shares come from real life experiences and they are scary! 

  • The #1 way real estate agents get into trouble is failing to disclose material facts. If the seller chooses to disclaim instead of disclose, they still need to disclose a latent defect.  (that's a fault with the property that couldn't be discovered by a thorough inspection prior to the sale.) 

  • Listing agents and buyer agents need to be careful how they describe a property. Is the house really in excellent condition? Is the roof/HVAC new? Has the kitchen been updated? These vague descriptions have been the subject of lawsuits filed against real estate agents. Provide dates instead of saying something is "new or updated". And don't say "excellent condition" in a description unless it's 100% true. Here's an example: A house listed as "in excellent condition" was purchased by a buyer. The buyer had a home inspection and several items, one major, were discovered by the inspector. The buyer said, "How can this home be excellent with all these repair items?" So the buyer asked the listing agent to reimburse him for the cost of the home inspection. The listing agent said no. Many months and thousands of dollars later, the buyer won a lawsuit! All because the listing agent wrote "excellent condition" as a description of the property. 

  • Your real estate agent will never say which neighborhood is right for you. Certain details of a neighborhood could violate the Fair Housing Act which was enacted in 1968 to eliminate housing discrimination. A real estate agent can and will provide a home buyer with tools and resources so they can make an informed decision regarding neighborhoods. 

  • Real estate agents should be careful to present a true (honest) picture when advertising. Apparently, this is another common issue when agents get into trouble. All advertisements should disclose the Broker's name and/or company name with the office telephone number. In other words, it should take no longer than 15 seconds for someone to know an agents Brokerage. This includes all correspondence, anything that's mailed, business cards and newsletters. 

 

Continuing education classes give us the opportunity to check ourselves. Are we acting ethically every day with every client? Are we staying in the scope of our expertise? Are we acting solely in the best interest of our client/principal? 

Should I Test My Home for Radon?

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Unlike the picture above, radon gas is colorless and odorless. Radon occurs naturally. It is the decay of the elements radium, thorium and uranium in rocks and soil. Radon seeps up through the ground and into the air. In some cases, radon dissolves into groundwater and is released when water is used (when you turn on the shower or faucet).

Radon becomes a serious health risk when it's trapped in areas without adequate ventilation.  In fact, any home that is tightly sealed with insulation and new windows is a home that should be tested for radon. 

How should you test for radon gas? Radon levels can change when doors and windows are opened so a long-term test may be the better way to test for radon. In fact, the EPA has a consumers guide to radon reduction.

Once you have tested your home, you will receive results which are measured by picocuries per liter. This is a measurement of the radioactive decay of radon. While there is no acceptable level of radon exposure, the EPA recommends mitigation if the level is 4 pCi/L or higher. 

Mitigation of radon gas is accomplished through ventilation. A pipe is placed under the concrete slab of the home and a small fan is inserted to draw the radon gas through and out of the pipe which vents outside of the home. The installers place a gauge on the pipe so homeowners can see if the pipe is working. The cost of mitigation varies but is usually in the range of $500-$1500. 

  • Test your home for radon
  • If the test results show 4 pCi/L or higher, contact a radon mitigation company
  • Be wary of companies that are significantly cheaper than the rest! You get what you pay for and you want to get this right
  • Do check for references and the Better Business Bureau
  • The work should take about a day or less
  • The fan/motor has a low humming sound similar to the sound you hear from a dryer vent when it is in use.

New Smoke Detector Law in Maryland takes effect January 1st 2018

Maryland Residents are required to replace the 9-volt battery operated smoke detectors that are 10 years old with new smoke detectors. 

Video is from MDFRS Media

Maryland's Smoke Alarm Law applies to both hardwired and battery operated smoke alarms. The date will be on the back of the smoke detector. If you don't see a date then the smoke detector is probably over ten years old. 

The new law emphasizes the use of sealed smoke alarms with long-life batteries and silence buttons. Below is an outline of requirements.

  • In existing homes, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) requires a smoke alarm outside of bedrooms and one on each level of the home. However, it also recommends that existing homes be equipped with at least the same number of smoke alarms required in new homes which includes smoke alarms present inside all sleeping rooms.
  • For new construction, Maryland’s Smoke Alarm Law has been updated to match with the International Residential Code and National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code. An AC powered, battery back-up smoke alarm is required in every bedroom, in the common area outside of the bedrooms and on every other level of the dwelling unit, with all of the required smoke alarms being interconnected. The requirements for smoke alarms vary depending on when the residence was constructed. 

This new law is meant to protect people from house fires. Since the battery operated smoke detectors are easy to dismantle, many homeowners would take batteries out if they were triggered by cooking. The homeowners would then forget or neglect to replace the batteries. This has resulted in house fires where firefighters find no batteries in the smoke detectors. The new smoke detectors have a hush feature that allows you to temporarily turn off the smoke detector while cooking. 

For more information about Maryland's Smoke Alarm Law, read this article from the Baltimore Sun

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

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  CNBC interview 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

 

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

Buying a Condo in Bethesda Maryland

What You Should Know About Condos in Bethesda

 

Bethesda Maryland garden gate

 Looking for Condos in Bethesda Maryland?

We toured condos in Bethesda this weekend including a hard hat tour of Hampden Row 4915 Hampden Lane in Bethesda Md. When Hampden Row is complete, there will be 55 hi-end condominiums. Hard hat tour Hampden RowSeveral condos have large balconies and all have high-end appliances. The rooftop deck has a gas fireplace and stunning views of downtown Bethesda. Condos on the west side of the building face the Bethesda library and a park. The view is serene and green.  The Lauren 4901 Hampden Lane features 29 luxury condominiums including a 7300 square foot penthouse listed for $10.5 million. The Lauren has a concierge team. According to The Lauren's website, the concierge team provides unmatched services for condo owners.

"No request is too big or small and will always be carried out with strict confidentiality." 

Downtown Bethesda Maryland

The Darcy 7171 Woodmont Avenue is one of the newer condos in downtown Bethesda. It's across the street from Barnes & Noble and Pottery Barn & above Passion Fish restaurant. The Darcy condos we toured faced Bethesda Avenue and a building across the street that is soon to be renovated. For our client, the unattractive building and the prospect of a construction project in the near future, played a part in his not making an offer. 

 

Lionsgate 7710 Woodmont Avenue is a condominium built in 2008 and modeled after New York style co-ops. It is a luxury hi-rise 9+ stories with 24 concierge service, an elegant entrance, and circular driveway. Many of the one bedroom condominiums at Lionsgate have a small den with a large walk in closet. A parking space is included in the list price. These extra features put Lionsgate high on our home buyer's list. However, condos on the levels 4 and below, in the back of the building, face an ugly concrete garage. It's unfortunate since the condo's we toured are beautiful. 

The Edgemoor 4821 Montgomery Avenue is a large condominium building with million dollar penthouses on the top floor. Montgomery Avenue is a quiet street but convenient to Metro and all the popular shopping and dining spots in downtown Bethesda. 

The Adagio 6820 Wisconsin Avenue is across the street from Trader Joes. Many of the one bedroom condominiums have two full bathrooms a den and parking included in the list price. These features make The Adagio a very attractive option. 

What You Need to Know When Buying a Condo in Bethesda

  • How much is the condo fee and what does it include? Some condominiums have monthly fees over $800.00. Always check the listing to see what utilities are included. What hours does the building offer concierge service? 
  • Is there a parking space included in the list price? One of the condos we toured this weekend offers parking at an additional cost. One space costs $85,000.00. When you add that to the list price, you are racking up high costs. If you are buying an existing condo that does not include parking, you may be able to purchase a space from another condo owner. 
  • Is the Condo Association in good financial order? There is a 7 day review period for buyers to review the condo documents. Read all the documents. Are there any special assessments? If so, you may ask the Seller to pay that off at Settlement. Make sure you can abide by the rules that govern the building. If they do not allow pets, you may want to reconsider. 
  • Is there a common laundry area or is there a washer & dryer in the unit? There are common laundry rooms in older condominiums in Bethesda. In North Bethesda, condo's in The Grosvenor share a common laundry area. In downtown Bethesda, particularly  in the newer buildings, condominiums have a washer and drier in the unit. 
  • Are pets allowed? If so, is there a size limit? We were with a buyer in Washington D.C. the other day and just as we were going to ask the concierge if pets were allowed, a Great Dane strolled by the front desk. So that building stays on our client's list since pets are allowed and there are clearly no size limits! 

Links for Buying a Condo in Bethesda Maryland

Buyer's Edge

HomesBuyHendersons

Bethesda Maryland Master Plan

 

 

video of Bethesda Maryland

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