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.

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

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
Sept. 14, 2017

Tips for a Smooth and Easy Move

You’ve finally found the perfect home. Your loan has been approved and your settlement is getting close. Now it’s time for the move. The following are some tips that make the moving process as smooth and easy as possible.

Do any repairs and painting before moving in.

Go through your new home and decide what repairs and painting needs to be done. Before your movers start bringing in boxes and furniture, take the time to get those items done. It’s so much easier to do repairs and paint walls without having things in your way. You’ll be glad you did.

Hire a professional cleaner to do a thorough cleaning before moving in.

Before moving in, hire a professional cleaner to do a complete once-over of your home. There’s no better time for a thorough cleaning than when your home is empty. It’s an additional expense, but moving into a clean home is guaranteed to make the move easier and you happier.  

Hire a locksmith to change all the locks on the house.

As soon as possible after you settle on your home, hire a locksmith to change all of the locks on the house. Even though the seller is trustworthy, you never know who else may have keys. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Take care of setting up your utilities.

With so much focus on your move, don’t forget to get in touch with all the new providers to switch the services over to your name. You can check with the former owners to determine what you need to set-up. 

Make a detailed inventory list of your belongings.

Moving can be stressful. When you get to your new home and have a detailed list of what is in each labeled box, you will be so grateful. Plus, as an added bonus, the list will come in handy if you ever have an accident such a fire or natural disaster. 

Find the best nearby takeout.

Now’s the best part. Once the boxes and furniture are in place and the movers are gone, it’s time to celebrate with some takeout and wine. Do your research ahead of time so you’re not scrambling to find a place before closing time.

Are you ready to find your perfect home? Call the dedicated agents of Coldwell Banker Innovations to help you find houses for sale. We have offices in Hagerstown, MD, Frederick, MD and Greencastle, PA.

Sept. 7, 2017

6 Things you should expect from a good agent

Buying or selling a house is one of the biggest decisions you will ever make, but have you ever considered what you should actually expect from your real estate agent?

The thought may seem daunting because it isn’t a relationship you deal with on a day to day basis, but I can tell you one thing for certain and that is: A good agent owes it to you! There is no reason to settle for sub-par when it comes to your dream home. At the end of the day, they will be working for YOU so make sure you take the time to ensure that you find the right agent who is willing to dedicate their time and energy into making the home buying process exactly what it should be for you: fun! 

If you’re sitting there scratching your head wondering exactly what you should be looking for in a great agent, then let me get you started with just a few things a great agent will do for you!


Fight for you - A great agent will be like a best friend; available no matter what. They must be willing to go far beyond the call of duty for you and fight in your corner to make sure you’re getting a great deal and the house of your dreams. Contracts and agreements can get complicated and messy sometimes, and you shouldn’t be the one worrying about it. You want an agent who knows your budget, knows your bottom line, and will get keep you happy with the least amount of work on your end! A great agent will work hard!


Market your home using the best tools – This is important. No longer are we in the days where you can run an ad simply by printing it in the paper. There are a plethora of ways to market a house. An agent should know which is best and how best to go about it. Take a look at their previous sales and see if you can find anything on how they sold the property. Research their statistics including how long their previous properties were on the market, photos, and what avenues they prefer to use to sell houses. 


Have a great reputation – Here at Coldwell Banker Innovations we have an incredible reputation with the local community and this is a reflection of our agents and their desire to work with you. Understanding the heritage of Coldwell Banker is something that is carried forward while representing the company. From real estate in Greencastle PA and Frederick Md, to commercial property in Hagerstown we know property and with a great skill set to match, including a wealth of experience. We pride ourselves on our drive to never stop learning, growing, and staying on top of the market trends. 


They will be punctual –  Imagine finding your dream home and then losing the sale because your agent didn’t contact the buyer in a timely manner. In a world where things are moving a million miles an hour, and contracts are coming back and forth, punctuality is key. If an agent isn’t punctual, problems can arise with contract agreements and even settlements. This may seem incredibly obvious, but it is also incredibly important! When interviewing agents, shoot them an email or call them (on a weekend) and see how long it takes them to respond. You may be surprised!


They will listen – Buying a home is a huge decision and everyone has a picture of what they want in their mind. From budgets to interior design, agents should listen and be available. We are here to solve problems and help you move forward. We need to know what YOU want and need, so unless you find an agent who carries the ability to be psychic, listening is of the upmost importance.


They’ll have negotiation skills – You do not want to find the perfect home just to lose it due to weak negotiations. Good negotiation skills are a must and a great agent must be incredibly tactful in how they conduct negotiations. You want an agent that will get the best deal for you while keeping all parties happy. Sometimes this is easier said than done, which further evidences why this is so important.


Looking for your dream home shouldn’t be hard work! It should be an exciting time in your life! With the right real estate agent, it will be just that. Hop down to Coldwell Banker Innovations today to meet with a few of our agents and decide which is best for you!


Take a look at our agents here.

Posted in Home Buying Tips
Sept. 6, 2017

5 Tips for Selling Your Home in Autumn

Fall Trees

1.  Spruce Up the Yard

Rake and clean up dead leaves in your lawn. Remove overgrown vegetation blocking windows and path to the entrance. Trim bushes and tree limbs to showcase the exterior of your home. Cut and remove summer vines and dead flowers. 

2.  Add Autumn Curb Appeal

Add autumn flowers like chrysanthemums (mums) and marigolds. Plant them in pots, place them on the steps and along sidewalks. Accent them with pumpkins and gourds.

3.  Check the HVAC

Change the furnace filter and have the HVAC checked before you need to turn on the heat. Since the buyer will probably ask a home inspector to look at the HVAC, it’s better to fix any problems before your home goes on the market.

4.  Accessorize with Autumn Accent Colors

Accessorize dull furniture with bright red, orange and yellow pillows. Place a quilt or autumn colored throw over a chair. After you declutter each room, bring some autumn hues to them with some bold colored accent pieces. Add an autumn centerpiece to the dining room table.

5.  Fill Your Home with Autumn Scents

Before a showing, burn a cinnamon-scented candle or simmer a pot of apple cider with a stick of cinnamon on the stove. Set out some freshly baked pumpkin cupcakes or fill a bowl with crisp red apples. 

Posted in Home Selling Tips
July 18, 2017

Best Investments For Home Improvement


Generally there are two ways to go about improving your home. Sure, you can invest in all those amenities you’ve always wanted—granite counter tops, marble bathroom floors and an in-wall surround sound speaker system. If, however, you plan on selling your home in the near future, we would suggest a more pragmatic approach.


Invest in some of the more “unglamorous” improvements that will increase the market value of your home; tasks like fixing that leaky roof, installing energy efficient appliances, or replacing that ancient furnace.  In this week’s article we’re going to address the best ways to increase your home’s market value, and give you some facts and figures you can use to make the best decisions that suit your needs and budget.  


“What A Beautiful Kitchen!”


Even a few basic improvements to your kitchen can pay handsome dividends. For most homebuyers, this one room is considered the heart of the home. A fresh coat of paint, new wallpaper, and even an upgraded hardwood floor can go a long way to bumping the asking price of your home up to the next level. Consider sanding, staining or painting tired cabinets, and don’t forget to replace old cabinet hardware! It’s amazing how such a small investment can make a dated kitchen look brand new.


 “Honey, Look At How Much Space There Is!”


Another good way of increasing the value of your home is to add more livable space.  This can be done by converting a basement to a “Man Cave”, an attic to a hobby room or an extra bedroom into an office. Some sellers claim to have recouped nearly all of their investment using this strategy to help sell their home quickly.


“The Bathrooms Are So Immaculate…”


Bathrooms are another common upgrade option for sellers seeking to sell their home quickly. With the right contractor, a well done bathroom remodel can be completed quickly and affordably.  If your home has only a limited number of bathrooms, adding an additional bathroom with all the trimmings — marble vanity top, molded sink, bathtub with shower and ceramic tile — can almost pay for itself.


“Imagine The Parties We Can Have!”


A deck is by far the most cost effective addition you can make, usually recouping 85% of its investment value. Many sellers find the idea of having an extra entertaining space outside of their home very appealing.


It’s important to remember, if you do invest in remodeling any area of your home, if you plan on selling, it’s best to list your home shortly after the project is completed. The longer you wait to sell your home the chance of recouping your investment begins to decrease.


Are you ready to list your home? Call the talented, dedicated, caring agents of Coldwell Banker Innovations! We are committed to helping you sell your home quickly, easily and at the right price. Call 301.745.1500 today!

July 12, 2017

Open Houses—Do They Work And Are They Worth It?

 Yes, this week we’re going there! The question that has plagued sellers and agents for decades will finally be addressed, right here, right now. There are so many differing opinions on this topic, polarizing nearly everyone who has taken time to ponder the question. Do Open Houses sell homes? Are they really worth the time and effort involved? Let’s open the proverbial Pandora’s Box and tackle this burning subject head on!

 Ok, So What’s The Deal? Do Open Houses Sell Properties?

Well, it depends on who you ask! Speak to a seller who received an offer from a buyer that attended an Open House and you’ll get a very positive answer. Question a homeowner who has opened their doors for several Sundays in a row and experienced no traffic and you’ll most likely get a totally different response.

 The real answer is, yes, Open Houses can be an amazing technique to sell your home…but the key word in this statement is can. There is no guarantee hosting multiple events will move your property, but there are things that can be done to increase your odds significantly!

 What Goes Into A Successful Open House?

Remember that mysterious voice in Field of Dreams that whispered cryptically to Kevin Costner “If you build it they will come”? That, Dear Readers, was just a movie!

 It takes a lot more than a few balloons and road signs to get buyers to attend your Open House. You need an agent that understands how to drive traffic to your property. Hosting these weekend events are just part of the equation to selling your home. It’s imperative to partner with an agent that is able to utilize all the tools in their arsenal including:

  • Marketing Your Home Online
  • Showcasing Your Property Via Social Media
  • Networking Your Listing With Buyer’s Agents

Ok, back to actual Open Houses.

 Talk at length with your agent about the potential of successfully selling your specific home via an Open House. It’s quite possible they may have a positive track record in this area. Many agents feel Open Houses are the perfect environment to show all the benefits of your home to buyers. After all, no one knows more about all the selling points of your property than you and the agent you selected—certainly they will know more of the intricacies than the buyer’s agent!

 No one can accurately predict how well an Open House will perform, but one thing is certain—you can only sell your home to one buyer! Some sellers may feel that if 100 couples show up to view the property the odds of selling their home have increased. Not so! It’s possible only two, even one, buyer shows up, falls in love with your home and you’re on the way to closing.

Any agent will tell you Open Houses are just another marketing tool utilized to sell your home but are no substitute for the diligent use of every other technique to source a buyer. What’s more important than an Open House, marketing, pricing and great location when it comes to selling your home? The answer to this question is very easy—partnering with the right agent!

 To learn more about how Coldwell Banker Innovations can help you sell your property feel free to contact us today! Call 301.745.1500 and we will be happy to pair you up with a dedicated sales agent to get the process started!

July 3, 2017

What Is A Reverse Mortgage?


Here at Coldwell Banker Innovations we receive a variety of questions regarding everything imaginable pertaining to selling and buying homes. Whether it’s a questions from someone attempting to sell their home on their own or first-time homebuyers seeking advice on saving for that crucial down payment—and everything in between! One of the most frequent questions to show up in our mailbox, however, involves the mysterious practice of reverse mortgages. In this week’s entry, we will explain the basics of a reverse mortgage in order to help you make a decision as to whether you think they are worth investigating further.


So What Exactly Is A Reverse Mortgage?

In broad terms, a reverse mortgage is just what it sounds like: rather than paying principal and interest to your mortgage lender each month, instead, they pay you in the form of a monthly disbursement, or, in some instances, one lump sum. We can hear the sound of your chin hitting your chest right now, followed by something like “Wow! That sounds like a great deal! Where do I sign up?”


Not so fast—there’s more things to consider before the money starts rolling in.


Who Is Eligible For A Reverse Mortgage?

Since the inception of this unique program in 1989, reverse mortgages were intended to help seniors over the age of 62 gain access to the equity in their home. If you’re reading this and you’ve just celebrated your 30th birthday, we’re sorry if we burst your bubble.


In addition to your age, lenders will also consider the value of your home, an accurate interest rate and, in some areas, if there is a lending limit in place. It’s important to know that you must own your home or have a very low balance that can be paid off at closing with the proceeds from the reverse mortgage funding.

Any eligible homeowner who is interested in a reverse mortgage must also understand they must continue to live in their house, making it their primary residence.


How Does This Reverse Mortgage Work?

If you have met all of the criteria, and decide to move forward with a reverse mortgage, you will receive payments from the lender, as mentioned before, usually on a monthly basis. The money you received will need to be repaid upon your death, the sale of your home or if you decide to move out of the property.


Upon your passing, your heirs must give up ownership of the home to the lender or purchase the title from the reverse mortgage company.


What Can I Use The Money From The Reverse Mortgage For?

Really, for pretty much anything! Senior Citizens can help supplement their income, pay for medical expenses or to pay off other debt. Keep in mind, property taxes, and, in most cases, home insurance, will still need to be paid. If you let any of those payments lapse you could be in default!


So, is a reverse mortgage the perfect solution for you? Only you can answer that question! We, however, can help if you decide to sell your home or purchase a new one! Give us a call at 301.745.1500 and keep those questions coming!

Posted in Home Buying Tips