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.

May 8, 2018

STAGES OF BUYING A HOME

Stages of Buying a Home

Find out what you can expect during the home buying process and learn all the stages of buying a home.

It may be a goal you have had since childhood. Perhaps, you have rented for most of your adult life and now want to experience the joys and satisfaction of home ownership. Buying a home is a big step and requires a lot of important decisions along the way. With some advanced planning and research, you can be sure your home purchase is something you feel good about for many years ahead. Here are the basic steps that lead you to a successful transaction.

Understanding What You Can Afford
This is different from qualifying for a loan. This is calculating how much of your budget you will devote to your home and how much money you want for other things. For a person who values travel, they can afford more house than they should buy. Some of their money will go toward accommodations on the road or other travel expenses. If you love fishing, boating, or a hobby such as restoring classic cars, factor the required budget for your preferred pastime into your overall household budget. With that in mind, think twice about buying a home the bank says you can afford. You will be happiest in the home that allows you to enjoy life to its fullest.

Review Your Credit Report
Know your credit score prior to meeting with any loan officers or mortgage brokers. A lower score will result in a higher interest rate and possibly prevent you from qualifying for the loan you want. It can take several months to correct any errors in your report. By reviewing your report a few months before home shopping, you could save yourself several thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.

Choosing Your Professionals
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) advises potential home buyers to attend a homeownership education class prior to choosing a mortgage. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was established to help protect consumers from predatory lending and mandates all required information about your loan and real estate transaction be written in clear, easy to understand wording. It is an excellent resource for home buyers.

Take time to interview several loan professionals before signing with one. You can be pre-qualified by your bank or any loan company. That does not obligate you to choose them for your home loan. Discuss your goals with a Coldwell Banker® brand agent. They are here to consult with you at each step of the process. Also, it is a good idea to know who will be your attorney for the closing. Many builders want you to close the transaction with their attorney. As the home buyer, it is your right to choose the attorney who will represent you in the closing.

Choosing Your Home
Once you are pre-qualified, you are ready to begin shopping for your new home. For most buyers who plan to purchase with a standard 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, there are few restrictions on the houses they view. If you will be using a FHA loan, USDA home loan, or other special financing, you can only consider homes that qualify for these programs. HUD has incentives for first-time buyers and community servants like firefighters, teachers, and lawenforcement officers. To see if you qualify for special financing, and to learn if there are any Good Neighbor Next Door homes available in your area, consult with a Coldwell Banker® brand agent.

Take your lifestyle and future plans into consideration as you view homes. If you plan to move in a few years, you may want to choose a simple, easily affordable home that will always be in demand and fairly easy to sell. It is best to have a second and third choice in mind that you can go to if you have to walk away from negotiations on your first choice.

Negotiating the Contract
Buying a home is an emotional experience. Trust your home buying expert with Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC for guidance. They work with lenders, home sellers, and other real estate agents every day. They will advise you on negotiation strategies and be there to provide objective advice that protects your best interest in the transaction. Most contracts have contingencies, and the negotiation is not complete until all contingencies are met.

Home Inspection
A thorough home inspection by a certified professional is crucial for any home purchase. You should attend the inspection and feel free to ask questions about any areas of concern. Once you have received the home inspection report, your Coldwell Banker brand agent will review it with you. You may choose to ask the seller to make some needed repairs, negotiate a lower price, or accept the report and move forward with the transaction as it is.

The Closing
The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) requires that lenders provide home buyers with as accurate of a good faith estimate as possible and that they disclose the nature of all cost. It also prohibits kickbacks and other unlawful payments among real estate professionals and lenders. The TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosurerule combines forms required by the Truth in Lending Act, also known as Regulation Z, and the Real Estate Procedures Act, known as Regulation X, into one simple form. This new document replaces the final document required by the TILA and the HUD-1. You have three days to review and discuss it with your Coldwell Banker brand agent.

For any changes in amounts before or after closing, the lender must provide you with a corrected Closing Disclosure showing the actual amounts. All financial figures must be documented in writing and not delivered verbally. With sufficient communications prior to closing, you know the amount of certified funds (if any) you need to bring to closing. You can relax, sign the necessary paperwork, and receive the keys to your new home.

 

Posted in Home Buying Tips
April 25, 2018

Molly King Graduates from Maryland Realtors Leadership Academy

Molly King of Coldwell Banker Innovations and Pen Mar Association of Realtors was one of Twenty graduates from the Maryland Realtors eighteenth annual Leadership Academy honored at ceremonies held in Annapolis.

The Maryland REALTORS® Leadership Academy was formed by REALTORS® who understand the important role they play in their community and the need to enhance the leadership skills, knowledge, and competencies of fellow REALTORS interested in making a difference in their personal lives and in their communities.

Pen-Mar Association of Realtors, one of sixteen local Realtor Boards in Maryland is a strong advocate and recognizes the importance of this program to Pen-Mar's future.

The Maryland REALTORS® Leadership Academy offers an intensive curriculum designed to develop skills in leadership. communications, strategic planning, legislative and government affairs and community involvement. Classes are conducted over 7 months and stress the valve of professional and personal commitment to business, charitable and civic endeavors.

"Today we honor you as future leaders in communities and within our REALTOR® organization and thank you for your willingness to step into a leadership role," said 2018 President Boyd Campbell. He added, "you have already achieved so much." David Charron, Bright MLS Chief Strategy Officer addressed the graduates and guests. Charron told the graduates, "the path of leadership is crooked and dormant until it happens...things that don't make sense get disrupted and that's when leaders emerge."

The MRIS Investors and REALTORS® Property Recourse (RPR) sponsored the 2017-18 Maryland REALTORS® Leadership Academy event and were recognized for their support.

Posted in About Our Realtors
Feb. 1, 2018

4 Reasons It'll Pay To Sell Your Home Early In 2018

4 Reasons It'll Pay to Sell Your Home Early in 2018

 

It has been almost a decade since the Great Recession delivered the worst housing crash in modern memory. But it’s 20818 and homes are flying off the market at record prices all across the country and buyers are still clamouring to get in the game.  Now one thing is for sure it is a great time to be a seller! 

In other words: Today’s buyers are exhausted and tired which means in many cases they are willing to make a sacrifice to get a toehold in the market. Although to have the most advantage as a seller your window of opportunity could be narrowing here is why you should get moving ASAP.

 

Rates are historically low, and drawing buyers into the market - We may not be enjoying rock bottom interest rates but by historical standards todays 30-year mortgage rate hovering just above 4% are still very low. This means the going is good for buyers, enticing them into the housing market and consequently fantastic for sellers especially where inventory is low.

That said, mortgage rates are on the rise and buyers are starting to understand the longer they wait the more expensive it will be to borrow. In a nutshell, it would be wiser to market your home earlier on in the year while mortgage rates are low and they are accessible by more people. Take advantage of low interest rates and low inventory! 

 

Inventory remains tight and demand is high - To put it simply there are more buyers than available homes, and the supply problem is likely to get worse before it gets better looking at Washington County statistics for inventory in December 2017 (the latest month we have statistics for) total number of homes available is lower by 153 units or 22% which is a total of 553 compared to 706 in December 2016. The average days on the market was also down by 8%

 

Home Prices Are Still Increasing - Home prices continue to rise which translates to more money in your pocket although more moderate than in the past years data suggests a 3.2% increase year over year compared to ending 2017 with a 5.5% year over year.

 

People have more money in their pocket - Record levels of consumer confidence, low unemployment, and stock market surges are setting the stage for high home buyer turnout in 2018. Or the first time since the 1960’s , the Fed has projected that the unemployment rate will drop below 4%, and the stock market is having somewhat of an unprecedented rally. 

The housing market is already reflecting this boom: Existing-home sales soared 5.6% n November and reached their strongest pace in almost 11 years according to NAR (National Association Of Realtors)

So if you are looking for a stress free move reach out to one of our agents today.

 

Posted in Home Selling Tips
Dec. 18, 2017

Christmas Can Be A Great Time To Buy A Home, And Here Is Why!

 

 

Less Competition – Moving over the holidays can be a challenge, it can prove to be somewhat of a headache not forgetting the cold and unpleasant weather in many areas. This can work in your favor if you are motivated enough to find your perfect home for a great price. While taking that into account, this tends to mean less competition when submitting an offer, whilst people are still looking at homes fewer are taking action. So you stand a better chance of getting a great deal. The median home value in Hagerstown MD is: $155,171 so why not take a look and see what you can get you may surprised!

 

Lower Prices – Due to the reasons listed above December tends to have lower home prices. In Washington County, MD the number of homes sold fell 3.2 percent, from 154 in November of last year to 149 this year. This is great for a buyer as it shows that there is less competition currently on the market, whether that trend is set to continue throughout and to the end of December is still yet to be known, why not ask one of our Coldwell Banker Realtors about the current market trend in your area of interest?

 

Motivated Agents – With fewer properties on the market real estate agents are dealing with fewer clients, this means that they will have even more time to devote to you. Plus, they can help you negotiate a great price on a home just at the right time. Take a look at a previous blog about how to pick the perfect agent here

 

Better Interest Rates – Interest rates are still at historical lows, the average rate on a 30- year fixed mortgage has been under 4% for the majority of the last five months. This time last year analysts were calling for interest rates in the mid 4’s or even 5% and they were ‘dead wrong’ according to the mortgage report website. The question is will this rate hold through December and beyond? The Fed just raised rates and is likely to d so again in early 2018.

 

Seasonal Sales – Seasonal sales could be a great time to furnish your newly found property, grab some great bargains that will help provide you with a personal touch! Be careful not to spend yourself into debt that you may struggle to repay especially when buying a new home. 

 

Motivated Sellers – Sellers do not enjoy moving over the festive period anymore than buyers do, but it is possible that they are highly motivated to move. As an agent I see a lot of expired listings in December, so if you are looking at buying a property this time of year why not ask your agent to take a look at some expired listings for you. That seller will generally be motivated to sell their property and a good chance of opening up negotiation talks if you find a home that did not previously sell. There are hundreds of expired listings across Hagerstown and Frederick so make sure to explore all your options.

 

Posted in Home Buying Tips
Nov. 15, 2017

Make Money Where You Eat!

 

For many people looking to buy a home, the kitchen is their first priority. People often have a vision of their “ideal” kitchen, and even if the rest of the house is perfect, the lack of that “perfect kitchen” could result in the loss of a sale. A kitchen can have such a wow factor if completed well. You want buyers to imagine themselves in rooms and the house, this is what can help sell your home! 

 

When looking to refurbish your kitchen for a potential home buyer, think of upgrades that appeal to the masses and take the personal out of it. Just because you may like the art deco drawers that cost $65 a piece, doesn’t mean a potential home buyer will too.  Think about how much your home is worth or could be worth. If your house is valued at $300,000 it wouldn’t make sense to spend $65,000 on remodelling the kitchen! It would make more sense to think logically and determine how to spend the least amount to get the greatest return from a potential buyer!

If you aren’t sure where to start or even wondering if your kitchen does need a remodel, here are a few hints to help you get started with turning YOUR kitchen into a DREAM kitchen. 

 

Speak to agents 

The first place to look when trying to decipher the trends in real estate is a certified agent! If anyone knows the housing market in your area, it should be a local real estate professional so why not ask them? This does not mean taking their opinion as gospel, but use it as a piece of information that you can use to make an informed decision. They look at houses and talk to potential buyers ever day so they probably have a great idea as to what people in the area and within your price range are looking for!

 

Keep it simple

Try and keep it neutral throughout. Do not try to over complicate the kitchen with textures and patterns. That doesn’t mean ‘white,’ just go natural and subdued. Make sure counter tops and surfaces are not busy and loud as that can be a distraction. No need to splash out on the ‘highest end extremes,’ but don’t cheap out! 

 

 

Open Plan

People tend to warm to open concept kitchens. If the budget allows and your kitchen does not air out and flow into other living spaces, consider knocking some walls down to make room do so. An open floor plan can really pay off and maximize the worth of your home.

 

 

Granite!

When renovating a kitchen, buyers want to see granite counter tops. If you decide not to opt for granite and choose something like quartz instead, pick a granite looking “pattern”. Shop around for the best prices you can find for granite worktops. Companies regularly offer specials. Granite is granite, so do not worry too much about the tier as you will just be splitting hairs, and would rarely come down to a make or break sell. 

 

Posted in Home Selling Tips
Nov. 11, 2017

Salute To Service

 

An incredibly proud Coldwell Banker Innovations would like to say a HUGE thank you to the following agents for serving their country. Another big thank you to other veterans past and present.

 

 

 

 

 

 

David Yoder

 

Sam Burke

 

Steve Davis

 

Preston Fouke

 

Frank Getz

 

David Winkelman

 

Roland Low

 

Mike Fitzgerald

Posted in Other
Oct. 30, 2017

Optimism For Renters

Buying your first home should be one of the most exciting times of your life! You have the image of the "perfect home" in your head and you've set your budget but when you actually take a look at the market, you wonder if now is actually the time to buy! How do you navigate the tedious world between renting and home ownership and what resources are there to help you?

 

The last year has been one of surmounting frustration for those looking at buying their first home. Low inventory across the board caused home prices to rise as competition for buying homes maintained fierce. However, as many trends, the patterns of lows and highs are predictable and ever changing.

 

Finally, a glimmer of hope for those looking to enter the housing market has surfaced; Optimism for first time homebuyers from the monthly sentiment survey from Fannie Mae shows increased optimism amongst renters and first home buyers alike.

 

Housing confidence in September hit an all time high and that confidence is expected to continue. This sudden excitement to buy stemmed from a large group of renters whom were surveyed saying that now would be a good time to buy. The opinion that home prices would increase dramatically over the next year had dropped significantly. Confidence is key. This was all said even acknowledging that the biggest bar to entry into the housing market was home prices.

 

Sarah Shada from the Economic & Strategic Research Group further confirmed these results by saying, "They may be able to take advantage of low down payment mortgages that require significantly less upfront than the traditional 20 percent, as well as programs offering grants towards down payment and closing costs. Our past research demonstrates that most people remain unaware of these types of programs and tend to overestimate the size of the down payment needed in order to buy a home.” 

 

Deciding on the right time to buy a home can seem daunting and as with anything, it is crucial to explore your options throughout the home buying process. Decisions will need to be made, but there are options available to help you reach your ultimate goal of buying your dream home. Check out our article about financial preparation for your first home 

 

Posted in Home Buying Tips
Oct. 27, 2017

Make Sure You’re Financially Prepared to Purchase Your First Home.

You’re excited, ready to make that huge investment and purchase your first home. There’s so much to think about… credit scores, down payments, and mortgages. The following are steps you can take to make sure you’re ready for the wonderful world of homeownership:

Determine what you can afford.

It’s crucial to know how much house you can afford before you start your new home search. When you find the perfect home, you want to make sure it’s in your price range. A good rule of thumb is to make sure your total monthly mortgage payment is under 30% of your gross income. But, your best bet is to talk with your lender.

Prepare your finances.

  • Check your credit score: Your credit score will affect your interest rate. Poor credit scores lead to higher mortgage rates and higher monthly payments. You want your credit score to be at least 620. Generally, any score under 620 is considered a weak credit score. Many lending institutions consider a 700 credit score as good.
  • Save cash for your down payment and other expenses: Typically, a down payment is between 3.5% and 20% of the purchase price. Keep in mind, you will have other expenses such as property taxes, insurance, moving costs, etc.
  • Collect documents you will need to verify your finances:  Once you’re ready to put an offer on a home, you will want to collect the documents you’ll need to verify your finances on your mortgage application. You will need: paystubs, W-2’s, bank statements, and copies of your last two tax returns.

Begin mortgage shopping.

When making an offer on your first home, a free mortgage pre-approval portrays you as a serious and qualified buyer. You will want to compare rates. You can do this with the leading online mortgage lenders or you use LendingTree to quickly get four or five competing rates from different banks.

Taking these steps before you search for your first home will help you be prepared for one of the biggest purchases of your life. Coldwell Banker Innovations has experienced Realtors who would love to assist you search for houses for sale. We have offices in Hagerstown, Frederick and Greencastle.

Posted in Home Buying Tips
Oct. 17, 2017

7 Tips to Help Your Agent Sell Your Home

 

When selling your home, the key to making it happen is having a great listing agent. Coldwell Banker Innovations has knowledgeable, dedicated agents that are committed to stellar customer service. But, the agents can’t do it all. You can help your agent help you.

You need to have an open, honest relationship with your listing agent. But there may be some things your agent might be reluctant to tell you. The following are some things your listing agent wishes you knew:

1.   Less is more

You may have a beautifully decorated home, but it’s your home not the buyer’s. Take time to declutter and remove personalized items from your home. Go ahead start packing and put some of your belongings in storage. You want to make a great first impression and decluttering can help do that.

2.   Don’t hide things from your agent

You need to share your home’s flaws with your agent.  Your listing agent is on your side and knows what must be fixed and what doesn’t. So, go ahead and share the good, the bad, and the ugly. Whatever you hide from an agent now could rear its head as a nasty surprise later.

3.    Some things may need to be fixed

You might have to spend a few bucks to make your house look its best. You may think your home looks totally normal since you’ve lived with some of the issues for years. But, to buyers they may look like expensive repairs. So, take the time to clean the scuff marks off the walls, replace trim that is scratched up, power-wash siding and decks, etc. It is the kind of investment that will pay dividends.

4.    Your remodeling might not pay off as much as you hoped

You may have put a lot of cash into remodeling projects, but that doesn’t guarantee a return on investment or increased value. Essentially, it depends on what kind of improvements you’ve made. The following are a few examples of remodeling projects that will add value: garage door replacement, minor kitchen remodel, replacement windows, basement remodel, and bathroom remodel.

5.    Don't overprice your home

While it seems like a good idea to list high and then come down as necessary, you could be making a huge mistake. Buyers may not realize your home is overpriced but the buyer’s agent will. They may use it as an example to sell another property based on how much nicer it was for the price. Price your home right the first time.

6.    Cleanliness really does matter

When selling your home, the goal is to make it as attractive as possible for potential buyers. People may get distracted by a dirty and messy home. They may get the sense that they will have a lot of work to do before moving in.  It’s very important to keep the kitchen and bathrooms clean. They’re the rooms that dirt and grime are most noticeable to buyers.

7.    Selling your home is a team effort

Hiring a real estate agent to list your home doesn’t mean you can sit back and watch the sale unfold. It really is a team effort. If you do your part and keep your home clean and tidy, your Realtor® can be focused on selling your home for the best price.

For more tips on selling your home, contact Coldwell Banker Innovations, the #1 Independently Owned Coldwell Banker Franchise since 2009. We have offices in Hagerstown, Frederick and Greencastle, PA. Our Real Estate Agents welcome and appreciate the opportunity to make your home selling process a fun and enjoyable experience.

Please call 301-745-1500 or visit http://www.yourcoldwellbanker.com/.

Posted in Home Selling Tips
Sept. 21, 2017

Home Staging Tips for Fall

Less Is More: 

Fall Table Setting

Having too many fall decorations will take the focus off of your home and its best features. But, a few tasteful accents can create an inviting setting. Adding vases of fall foliage or bowls of seasonal fruit throughout will make your home feel fresh. 

Let the Light In

Adequate lighting is essential to highlight your home’s best features. Since the days are getting shorter during the fall season, let in as much natural light as possible. Open your blinds, and place plenty of lamps throughout your home for additional illumination.

Accentuate Comfort

To create a warm and cozy atmosphere as the weather cools down, accentuate your sofas and chairs with autumn-colored pillows and throws. This type of atmosphere will encourage potential homebuyers to slow down, giving them more time to admire your home.

Use Seasonal Scents 

Pleasing aromas of apples and cinnamon say fall. Before a showing, burn a cinnamon-scented candle or simmer a pot of apple cider with a stick of cinnamon on the stove to fill your home with the delightful scents of autumn.

Focus on the Fireplace

During the fall, a cozy fireplace is a fantastic feature to highlight. Make sure you arrange your furniture so that the fireplace is the focal point of the room. Decorate the mantel with tasteful artwork or accessories to draw attention.

Add a Touch of Elegance

Enhance your home’s comfort by adding a touch of elegance. Layer beds with luxurious, silky fabrics. Plenty of inexpensive bedding options that look high-end are available at discount stores. Display plush towels in the bathroom and drape a stylish table cloth over your dining room table.

Are you ready to sell your home? Call the dedicated agents of Coldwell Banker Innovations. We have offices in Hagerstown, MD, Frederick, MD and Greencastle, PA.

Posted in Home Selling Tips