Coldwell Banker Innovations, the #1 Independently Owned Coldwell Banker Franchise in Maryland and the leading residential brokerage team for the Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania regions. With offices in Frederick County and Washington County, we look forward to assisting you as you navigate the wide palette of stunning properties that make these areas such exceptional places to call home.

June 26, 2017

Follow These Five Steps Before Selling Your Home


Psst…Hey, you, over there. Yes, you, the one speaking with there spouse about possibly listing your home. Hi. We didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but we couldn’t stand by letting you go down the rabbit hole of home selling all alone. There’s tons to learn when it comes to selling a home, but we’ve got you covered. Our agents have sold their share of houses—wouldn’t it make sense to gather their all their advice, boil it down into easy to follow steps and present in one convenient location?  That’s just we’ve done, so before you break out in a cold sweat mulling over everything involved with selling a home, take a few minutes to review these five simple steps you absolutely need to consider before selling your home.



Get Yourself A Seasoned Real Estate Agent

Wait! Before you start telling us how it can’t be that difficult to sell a home on your own, and how you don’t want to share any of the proceeds from the sale with anyone other than your family members, ask yourself this question.  Do you want to sell your house quickly, easily and at the right price? Without the guidance of real estate professional, you may be able to achieve one of those three requirements, but only in the rarest instances all of them. Do you know how to properly price your home? How much time do have each day to properly market your house? And did we mention all the education you’ll need in order to ensure you’re accepting the best offer while avoiding all the land mines that could possibly rear their ugly heads prior to closing? Trust us on this one—even if you don’t choose one of CBI’s award winning agents to help you sell your home—find yourself a qualified REALTOR®.


Heed Your Agent’s Advice, Especially Concerning Pricing

Now that you’ve selected an agent, it’s time to pepper them with questions and actually pay close attention to their advice. Perhaps the biggest mistake sellers make is overvaluing the price of their property.  It’s a misconception that agents want to list your home as low as possible in order for it to sell quickly. Every real estate professional will tell you when they agree to help you sell your home they have a fiduciary commitment to look out for your best interests—always. They know what comparable homes have sold for in your neighborhood, as well as being equipped with a true understanding of your house’s actual worth. It’s common for sellers to have unrealistic expectations regarding the value of their home, and, sometimes, totally underestimating it’s worth. Your agent is there to guide you to a realistic pricing structure. You don’t have to agree with their recommendations, but it’s important to be open minded regarding their rationale. Remember, your agent works for you. Every Coldwell Banker Innovations team member is dedicated to ensuring your satisfied through the entire sales process.


Get Your Home Ready For Eager Buyers

You’ve likely heard this several times before, and for good reason The time to get your home prepared for viewings is before the listing actually goes public. The last thing you want is to put off decluttering the closets, changing those burned out chandelier lightbulbs and cleaning the carpets only to be surprised that three buyers just saw your home come on the market—and they want to see it today! Discuss with your agent the date you would like to see your listing appear online, in the paper or on social media. Make that your drop dead to have your home looking it’s best!


Invest In Selling Your Home, But Don’t Over Invest

Definitely create a “honey do” list and make sure it gets done! Spackle those drywall dings, fix that leaky faucet in the powder room and apply a fresh coat of paint.  Your agent will be able to advise what repairs should be made, investments you will easily be able to recoup in the sale. If you’re worried that your kitchen is outdated and may limit your audience, ask your REALTOR® if it makes financial sense to finally get it done. In some instances certain remodeling work may be the right call. Remember, your agent can provide you with valuable guidance, ensuring you don’t spend money that you don’t really need to.


Like A Boy Scout, Always Be Prepared

It’s important to understand, when you’re house is listed you must always be prepared to get out of Dodge! Create a plan in advance enabling you to easily and quickly vacate the home as soon as your agent tells you a showing is scheduled. The majority of the time visits will be scheduled well in advance, but ask anyone who has sold a house and they will tell you to expect the unexpected. Have a location where you take the pets, the kids and, if necessary, the laundry all at the drop of a hat! Yes, no one wants to live with the pressure of hearing the phone ring and wondering if it’s a buyer who wants to stop by in five minutes, but the last thing you want to do is deny a viewing—it could be the client that wants to make a full price offer!


Considering listing your home? Contact us! We’re ready to help!

Posted in Home Selling Tips
June 19, 2017

Tips For Pet Owners Selling A Home


Puppies, kittens, birds, even your daughter’s pet turtle: they’ve all become part of your family.  Who doesn’t love snuggling with a purring cat or scratching an eager dogs belly?  Well, surprisingly, the number isn’t as high as you might expect. According to recent statistics provided from the American Veterinary Medical Association only 36.5% of households have a pet dog and 30.4% of households currently have a cat slinking around the house.


When selling your home you need to make certain that your property will appeal to pet owners as well as those not so fond of furry critters.  Below is a list of tips to help you prepare your home, casting a wider net when it comes to attracting interested buyers.


Relocate Temporarily With Your Pet

Yes, this may sound like an extreme decision, but if you can temporarily downsize to a location in which Fido is welcome, it will make your home show much better.  Perhaps you are fortunate enough to have family close by that has a home large enough to house your family and pets until your property goes under contract.  If this just simply isn’t practical, maybe you can find a friend who wouldn’t mind boarding the family pet until the home is sold.  Trust us, this may seem like a very drastic measure to take, but the goal is to sell your property quickly and a pet-free home has a better chance of being sold than a dwelling where even the friendliest animal currently resides.


Professionally Clean Your Carpets

Even the best-trained pets can have the occasional accident.  You may be very diligent about cleaning all of these messes, but a faint odor can certainly linger.  Additionally, your sense of smell is most likely accustomed to the scent of your dog or cat.  For visitors who are entering your home for the first time, whether you are aware of it or not, they will be able to tell you’re a pet owner based simply on how your carpets smell.


Move The Food Bowls

So you moved your pet in with a friend and even had a professional service come in and steam clean all carpets—but you’re not done yet! Make certain your dog’s food and water bowl or cat’s litter box (especially the litter box!) is placed somewhere out of site.  Hiding these items in a closet or pantry isn’t the best idea either, as potential homebuyers will likely open all doors on their tour.  Keep these items either at the pet’s new location or even in the trunk of your car; anywhere that is well out of sight.


Clean The Yard

So far so good? It’s important to pick up any droppings throughout your yard.  The last thing you could possibly want is an agent and buyer walking through your yard and stepping in your pet’s “business”. Well, it could be worse….they could unknowingly track the mess onto your newly cleaned carpets, defeating the purpose and forcing another call to the steam cleaning company.  Take the extra time to perform a thorough examination of your yard.


Yes, it can be a stress inducing experience selling your home, especially if you are a pet owner.  A seasoned realtor will be able to help eliminate your anxiety by providing proper advice and guidance regarding selling your home as quickly as possible.  If you have any questions regarding selling your home, feel free to post them below or contact Coldwell Banker Innovations at 301.745.1500, or, simply request more information here.

Posted in Home Selling Tips
June 15, 2017

How To Get Your Credit Score In Order Before Pre-Approval



We have seen it happen more times than we care to admit—a buyer finds their dream house and asks one of our talented CBI agents to represent them in the transaction. That’s great, as we specialize in helping both buyers and sellers, however the plot thickens when a buyer’s credit history is bit murky.  Mortgage pre-approval is an important part of the home buying process, yet so many starry eyed potential home owners fail to realize their past credit history plays a crucial role in turning a dream into reality.  In this week’s article we will provide some helpful guidance to help you get your credit report in shape before venturing into the home buying market.

The Credit Reporting Companies That Hold The Key To Your New Home

There are three major credit reporting bureaus that act as the gatekeepers between major lenders and your ability to get a decent interest rate: EquifaxExperian & TransUnion Each of these companies receive documentation periodically from a wide variety of creditors; everything from basic utility companies, student loan lenders and credit card organizations. Any business that requires you to send payments is fair game to be included in your credit report—even private landlords that collect rent.

Each of the above credit reporting companies will provide one free credit report every year to help you gauge your personal credit’s health. Many homebuyers will request one report from one company every four months. For those who are interested in more frequent information regarding their credit, additional reports can be purchased.

The Range Of Your Credit Score

Below is a sample list of credit scores as well as what one can typically expect to experience from mortgage lenders:

  • 751 And Higher: You can expect to get the most competitive, lowest interest rates available.
  • 750-711: Very good: You’ll still be eligible for competitive interest rates.
  • 710-651: You will be granted credit from most lenders, but at a higher interest rate.
  • 650-581: In this range the quantity of lenders is fewer with the interest rate becoming considerably higher
  • 580-300: You’ll likely have a very difficult time finding a lender, and if you do you can expect to pay extremely high interest rates.

How Can I Improve My Credit Score?

If you’ve found yourself with a credit score of anywhere from 710 down to 300, there are several ways you can improve your situation:

  • First, you must make certain you’re paying all of your bills on time. Late payments, just like on time payments, are recorded by the credit reporting companies. Even a brief history of late payments can negatively affect your score, just as several months of diligent on time payments will bode well.
  • Pay down your credit card balances, keeping them low—but not necessarily paid off! You will want to select one or two credit cards and use them frequently for everyday purchases. Try to keep your credit card to debt ratio at around 30%. The best strategy is to use your card, then make multiple payments per month; this way you’re paying down your card, not carrying a balance, but still having some of your credit used at any given time. No one knows when creditors sends their data to the credit reporting agencies; they love seeing that you’re using your credit line wisely, not just letting your account collect dust.
  • Go over your credit report thoroughly! It’s not uncommon to find reporting errors that are lowering your credit score. With documentation (proof) in hand, call the credit reporting companies and ask them to make the required corrections.
  • When reviewing your report, you may find that some older loans which you’ve paid off still appear on the list. That’s a good thing! Resist the urge to have the reporting companies take these off your  report, as this information actually bodes well for your credit score; it shows you had loans (student loans, auto loans, etc.) that you paid off, proving you are a reliable borrower.
  • When applying for a mortgage loan, do your homework first! Every time you visit a lender and they run a credit report it will be documented by the credit bureaus. A sudden increase in credit checks will be noted and can result in lowering your score.

Our advice to potential new homebuyers? Make sure your credit is in decent shape before looking for your dream home. If you find room for improvement, take steps to increase your credit score before seeking mortgage pre approval.  You may be pleasantly surprised by how little time it takes to really get your credit score in shape, resulting in a better interest rate which can save you a great deal of money over the life of your loan!

If you have any more questions regarding purchasing or selling a home, don’t hesitate to call us  301.745.1500, we’re here to help!

Posted in Home Buying Tips
June 7, 2017

Credit, Capacity, and Collateral

When you are applying for a home loan there are a lot of things that banks will look at when evaluating your creditworthiness.  Today we’ll look at three of those, credit capacity and collateral.

Your Credit score, or FICO score, is determined by three credit rating agencies, Transunion, Equifax, and Experian.  Your credit score can range from 350-850, and is determined utilizing several different factors including:

  1. How much debt you have outstanding as a percentage of open credit accounts
  2. How much debt you have outstanding
  3. How much total debt you have accrued
  4. How well you’ve paid  your bills over the years

In general to get a loan, you will need a credit score of around 640.  The Optimal credit range is around 740-760 or higher.  The lower you credit score is, the higher your interest rate is, and the more points you may have to pay on your mortgage loan.

Depending on your FICO score, the next thing a lender will look at is your capacity to pay off a loan.  The current numbers are approximately 36-38% of your monthly income towards a mortgage payment.

Finally, you your lender will look at the collateral.  The collateral is the property you will be purchasing.  The bank will order an appraisal, and determine the LTV, or loan to value ratio.  The lender will loan you a portion of the value of your collateral, depending on the loan this may be as low as 80%, or as high as 96.5%. 

Posted in Home Buying Tips
June 2, 2017

The Slippery Slope Of Purchasing Foreclosure Properties

Foreclosures have been around for many years but certainly not in the numbers the real estate industry is experiencing today. They are not likely to go away in the near future, either. Foreclosed homes are not necessarily damaged or priced in the lower end. There are many mid or high-end homes available in good condition and at very reasonable prices. If you are in the market for a home, there are many things to consider in the foreclosure market, but you need a qualified Coldwell Banker Innovations REALTOR to guide you through the system to make the most of these opportunities.


First, decide your type of financing and your price limitations. Some foreclosure properties are sold through an online auction process and some by an individual real estate broker. Read all the fine print concerning the buyers’ obligations when purchasing a property through an auction process because frequently there are no contingency options concerning home inspections, financing contingencies, etc. Make sure you know what’s expected of you before submitting a bid.


Second, make note that all the properties are sold “As-Is.” Foreclosure properties listed with a real estate broker provide the option of having a home inspected to determine any repairs or maintenance items and the approximate cost associated with these items. The results of the inspection will allow you to make an educated decision regarding whether you want to proceed with the purchase of the property, in case additional financial concerns may incur after ownership. As foreclosure specialists, we will leave enough time after the contract is signed for the listing agent to have all utilities turned on for the inspection. Note that some banks (sellers) will charge you for the de-winterization and re-winterization of the home. This cost should be considered with other upfront out-of-pocket expenses so you have enough funds for closing (settlement).


Third, if you are purchasing your home with a government loan (FHA, VA, USDA), there may be repairs that appraiser/lender require to be completed prior to settlement. We can help insure the appropriate allowance is stipulated in your contract to cover any repairs.


Fourth, many banks request you use their title company or settlement firm to perform the settlement or closing and are willing to cover some of the standard buyer fees as an added inducement. In Maryland, the buyer has the right to choose the settlement firm. This “right” can vary from state to state. You can choose to use the seller’s title company and also hire a second objective title company to alert you of potential title issues at an additional cost. There are many options concerning the title search. The main objective is to insure the property is conveyed to you “free and clear” of any title issues. We will guide you through this process so there are no “surprises” after settlement.


These are some of the many challenges to consider when purchasing a foreclosure. Coldwell Banker Innovations specializes in foreclosure properties and we are here to help you through the process of settling on your future home. Contact us today to learn more! 

Posted in Home Buying Tips
June 1, 2017

5 Easy Ways to Increase Your Homes Curb Appeal

Are you looking to sell your home and increase its value? Curb appeal matters! A few quick DIY curb appeal fixes can go a long way. Plus, they don't have to be expensive. Adding just a few these extra special touches to your homes exterior will help sell your home fester and have it looking better than ever before. 

#1 Paint The Front Door

There’s even an app for this! Download the App Front Door Paint and see what colors work best on your home before making a decision. Follow the easy step-by-step process in Step 2 below when painting your door to make is easy! This is such a simple and trendy way to upgrade your homes exterior! 

 #2 Give your house numbers a font upgrade.

 Font is very important. This includes font on your home as well. Adding a different look to your homes address will add modern flare to your exterior helping your home stand out to potential buyers. Get these sans-serif ones on the left here.  For the decals on the right, go here.


#3 Don't just repaint - redecorate!

Bring your outside stairs to life with paint and patterns.  Click here for the step-by-step tutorial

 #4 Add Plants!

Plants make any area come alive. Placed in attractive pots, and layered on your stairs plants add a sculptural element to your porch. Plants make everyone feel a little more welcome! 


#5 Give your mailbox a makeover!

Is your mailbox noticed, or is it an eyesore? Don’t underestimate the power of a good-looking mailbox! This one even coordinates with the porch railing.


Want more tips and tricks on how to up your curb appeal? Contact one of our talented agents at Coldwell Banker Innovations today – they will tell you what you need to know to get all eyes on your homes listing when you are ready to sell! 


Posted in Home Selling Tips
May 25, 2017

Oh, you thought that was it?

2016 Year End Awards Continued

Coldwell Banker is full of amazing realtors but the agents at Coldwell Banker Innovations rank supreme – if our first list of award winners wasn’t enough we are happy to announce that there are more amazing people to celebrate! 

Congratulations to Coldwell Banker Innovations Jeanne Pino for winning the 2016 International Presidents Elite Award for being in the top two percentage of all Coldwell Banker sales associates and representatives worldwide. Congratulations for winning such a distinguished award – we are proud to have you on our team Jeanne!  

Congrats to the Horn-Test Realtor Team at Coldwell Banker Innovations! Tom Test, Chris Horn, and Donna Reichart received The Coldwell Banker 2016 International Sterling Society Award! This prestigious membership was awarded to the top 45 percent of all sales associates / representative teams in North America. Congrats Team Horn-Test! We are so very proud of you!   


(The Horn-Test Team, Pictured from left to right: Tom Test, Donna Reichart, and Chris Horn)


Thank you again for providing Coldwell Banker with such a great infrastructure of agents – we are beyond proud of our accomplished realtors and our Coldwell Banker family.  


Posted in About Our Realtors
May 18, 2017

Get to know your Real Estate Agent – Joan McLernon


Joan started her journey as the Administrative assistant at Better Homes & Gardens in New York – here she learned the ins and outs of contracts and all of the work that goes into the real-estate business. From here her passion ignited, Joan discovered that she loved the construction business, this is where her story begins…

 Joan met her husband and decided to make moves, literally. After realizing her passion for construction, she set out to find what she was really supposed to be doing with her life.  Joan moved to Maryland and started working with a commercial developer in Rockville. This developer provided many learning opportunities for Joan.  She excelled at her job and built on her personal skills, honing her craft for client relations and evolving into a Property Management position. 

 Later Joan bundled up her passion for building, administration talents, and work ethic taking her career to the next level working with a Residential Developer handling the sales office in Germantown, MD.  For 6 years Joan continued to learn and grow in the new construction residential field in the Montgomery County area.

 The next move with this developer ended up being Hagerstown, Developing Potomac Ridge Condominiums where Joan established a relationship with O’Conner, Piper, & Flynn, later known as Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage and Coldwell Banker Innovations today. Upon the completion of Potomac Ridge Condominiums, Joan knew that it was time for a change.

 As Joan’s family grew, she needed to stay closer to home and Coldwell Banker provided that opportunity.   Coldwell Banker afforded Joan a priceless mentoring program and allowed her to learn the other side of the real estate business – being a licensed Realtor.  Joan states: “I learned from one of the best.  I was very fortunate to have daily access to so much knowledge and talent” Joan will be forever grateful for the mentoring she received and lessons along the way.

 Joan was voted Rookie of the year in 2000, Maryland Realtor of the Year in 2007, held office on the Board of Directors for 10 years and as President in 2009 of PenMar Regional Association of Realtors.

 36 years from her first position as an office admin, Joan has achieved top tier status as a Multi-Million Dollar Producer and Award winning agent with Coldwell Banker Innovations.   Her high performance standards and extraordinary customer service are the keys to her success; “if you keep the clients’ goals and best interest in mind, know your craft, work hard and pay attention to the details, success will find you.” 

Joan recently won the prestigious 2017 Presidents Circle Award for being in the top 10% of sales for Coldwell Banker Agents in the entire nation.  Joan still to this day loves her job and says that the ultimate reason why is because “she loves helping her customers achieve the goals that they believe to be unattainable.”

 If you have always dreamt of owning your own home, please call Joan McLernon at Coldwell Banker Innovations; she can make that dream become a reality.


Posted in About Our Realtors
May 12, 2017

The Working Mom – The Present Day Wonder Woman

With Mothers Day just around the corner we thought what better time to showcase one of Coldwell Banker Innovations most achieved agents and mothers.  Kim Lewis joined the Coldwell Banker Innovations team in 2003 and since then she has achieved multiple awards such as the 2015 International Presidents Circle Award for being in the top percentage of sales in the nation, and the 2016 International Presidents Elite Award for being in the top percentage of sales worldwide in the Coldwell Banker system.  


Kim Lewis joined the Coldwell Banker team after spending years in the retail industry. From there she learned a lot about marketing and sales, she spent years traveling, and opening new retail locations all over the nation.  Her success was not undervalued, she was offered multiple managerial positions in these areas but decided to stay in Maryland to achieve her ultimate goal of getting married and having a family. 


After she made this decision Kim was on the hunt for a new career. In 2003 Kim started with Coldwell Banker Innovations as a Licensed Real Estate Assistant where she processed contracts for various clients such as construction companies, and new businesses.  Her “behind the scenes” experience has helped her succeed in the real estate business. Now, 14 years later, she is rocking the real estate industry as an independent agent.  Kim states, “I absolutely love my job, I love it.” And says that that Coldwell Banker Innovations is her second family.  


Among being a successful career woman and a remarkable real estate agent, Kim Lewis is the mother of two beautiful girls, Nora 11 years, and Lauren 9 years.  Kim states that a work- life balance can be very difficult. Kim knows first hand how hard it can be to balance a career, be a great role model, and be a mother.  This is why we deem her, and every other working mother out-there “Super Mom.” 


Between PTA meetings, pageants, tennis, volleyball lessons, and dance classes it’s hard to find time to blink, but Kim has managed to go above and beyond, building meaningful relationships with her clients and finding the time to vacation in Disney World.  Did you know Kim landed one of her biggest deals while in line at Disney? 


In conclusion, being a mother is not easy, it’s exhausting, it’s stressful, and you don’t know if you’re doing the right thing, or the completely wrong thing, there’s no how-to book when it comes to parenting.  Take a lesson from Kim though; you can be a successful businesswoman, and an amazing mother at the same time. 

 Thank you Kim Lewis, for taking time out of your busy schedule to share your story with us.

Happy Mothers day to all the inspiring mothers there! 


Posted in About Our Realtors
May 5, 2017

Coldwell Banker Innovations 2016 Team Year-End Awards

The 2016 results are in and we wanted to give a shout out to our incredible team members for their extraordinary achievements in 2016. Congratulations to the following Coldwell Banker Innovation Real Estate Agents! Thank you for all you do and we are extremely proud of your accomplishments! 

The 2016 International Presidents Circle Award went to CBI’s agents Preston Fouke, Joan Mclearon, Alice Guy, Kimberly Lewis and Peggy P’s team for being in the top 24 percent of all Coldwell Banker teams in North America! 

2016 International Presidents Circle Award Winners

(Pictured from left to right Preston Fouke, Joan Mclearon, Alice Guy, Kimberly Lewis and Peggy Patschak)


The 2016 International Diamond Society Award went to CBI’s agents Linda Wigfield, Florence Wise, Kevin O’Leary, Molly King, and the Dattilio & Associates team. The Diamond Society award is an honor that is awarded to the top 35 percent of all Coldwell Banker teams in North America!


2016 International Sterling Society Award Winners

(Pictured from left to right, Linda Wigfield, Florence Wise, Kevin O’Leary, Molly King, and the Dattilio & Associates team)


The 2016 International Sterling Society Award went to CBI’s Dee Mills and Pamela Mease.  This exclusive nomination is awarded to the top 45 percent of all Coldwell Banker teams in North America!

2016 International Sterling Society Award Winners 

(Pictured from left to right, Dee Mills and Pamela Mease)

Congrats to our team of accomplished agents. Cheers to another year of real estate excellence! 


Posted in About Our Realtors