Blog :: 2016

Welcome to Our Real Estate Blog!

Read our latest insights into the Greater Washington real estate market, including Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. Our team of expert real estate professionals at RE/MAX Realty Group/100 have a finger on the pulse of the local market. Stay tuned for news and analysis on all the most important topics pertaining to real estate and home ownership in Maryland and Northern Virginia.

 

 

 

4 Things to Ponder Before Buying a Cabin

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(RE/MAX Blog)- Is the call of the great outdoors getting louder? A cabin in the mountains, on the lake or in the serene middle-of-nowhere can be a great place to escape to. Before you start shopping, here are a few things to consider:

1. Can you afford it?
You may have found a great cabin at a great price. Don't forget, however, to calculate annual property taxes and maintenance costs. Insurance for second homes can run higher than for primary residences. Financing may be more expensive for a second home as well. Get quotes, do your research and do the math to see if you can heed the cabin's call without creating so much financial stress that you won't be able to relax when you're there.

2. How often will you use it?
Look at your number of days off each year, then think about how many you want to spend at your cabin. Would you miss the beach? Regret not traveling abroad? Be sure you'll enjoy the area, and not just the cabin itself, through most of the year.

3. Will disaster strike?
Forest fires are tough beasts to tame, and mountain cabins are often directly in their path. Although no one can predict when a fire will spark, you can find out if your desired area is prone to droughts or other conditions favorable for an out of control conflagration. Look into insurance coverage for different disasters, and add it to the monthly cabin costs.

4. Could you rent out your cabin?
In some instances, you can rent out a vacation home for up to 14 days a year without paying taxes on the income. The money could help offset the cabin's maintenance or mortgage payment. Make sure you research the tax benefits (if any) of your own unique situation.

Want to buy a cabin? Start your search today with RE/MAX Realty Group and RE/MAX 100. 

7 Ideas for Using Feng Shui to Create a Harmonious Home

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(RE/MAX Blog)- The ancient Chinese art of feng shui uses design principles to create harmonious spaces that encourage health, wealth and happiness. According to the practice, colors encourage energy to flow freely throughout a structure, and each color is thought of as an expression of one of the five feng shui elements: fire, earth, metal water and wood.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when designing your home using general feng shui color principles.

1. Wake up a space with yellow
Yellow energizes spaces and is great for brightening rooms and adding a welcoming feeling. Yellows can be an excellent choice for kitchens, living rooms, hallways and offices.

2. Hues that work for you
If it's a calm sanctuary for a restful night's sleep, feng shui rules suggest water-element colors of calming blues to create tranquility. If you'd like your bedroom to be more passionate than peaceful, fire element colors like red can help crank up the heat.

3. A blank canvas for the kitchen
In feng shui, white is one of the preferred shades for a kitchen because it encourages purity and freshness. Plus, it creates the perfect palette for the rich colors of food.

4. Better than a lullaby
Shades of green in a child's room help make calm, serene spaces for sleeping. Plus, wood-element shades of green also encourage growth and learning.

5. Mind your reds
While red is the Chinese color of luck and happiness, too much of the fiery color can throw things off balance, bringing aggression and overstimulation.

6. Shades for success
Wood-element colors like greens and browns promote creativity, and water elements like blues and blacks promote wealth. Combining shades of each can change the energy of your home workspace.

7. Look outside your walls
According to feng shui principles, adding accent pieces and furniture in elemental shades also can help change the energy of a space. You don't need to go big (or commit) with an entire wall.

Color can help bring balance to your home, but it works best when you're living in a place that suits your needs. Looking for harmony in a new zip code? Let us help you in the search for your new home.

Real Estate Agents Donate 245 Build-A-Bears to Patients at Children's National Medical Center

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GAITHERSBURG, MD- Real Estate Agents and staff with RE/MAX Realty Group and RE/MAX 100 donated 245 Build-A-Bears during the 97.1 FM WASH for Kids Radiothon. The bears, which were each sponsored by agents and staff with every donation of $10, were delivered to patients at Children’s National Medical Center on Friday, December 16, the final day of the radiothon.

RE/MAX 100 Real Estate Agent Candy Meyers hosted her first Build-A-Bear fundraiser about six years ago. She has been hosting the fundraiser every year since then in conjunction with the 97.1 FM WASH for Kids Radiothon. This is the first year RE/MAX Realty Group and RE/MAX 100 have collaborated with Meyers in the fundraiser. Agents and staff went above and beyond to support the cause, raising enough money to donate over six times more Build-A-Bears than were donated last year.

Broker/Owner Ken Crowley expressed his gratitude to agents and staff for their generosity.

“The support and generosity of all the agents and staff members with our brokerage throughout the Build-A-Bear fundraiser exceeded expectations,” said Broker/Owner Ken Crowley. “We continued to get calls from agents and staff up until the very last moment wanting not only to sponsor one bear, but multiple bears.”

Several agents and staff members from RE/MAX Realty Group and RE/MAX 100 also expressed their support by volunteering their time to assist with the delivery of the bears and participate in the radiothon.

RE/MAX Realty Group and RE/MAX 100 is a locally owned and operated full-service real estate brokerage with offices located throughout Maryland and Northern Virginia. The brokerage has over 400 Realtors® and specializes in Residential and Commercial real estate. RE/MAX Realty Group and RE/MAX 100 is a proud supporter of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals® and other charities. To learn more, please visit www.ournexthouse.com.

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5 Reasons School Ratings Matter When House Shopping

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(RE/MAX Blog)- Schools can have a big impact on property value and quality of life. If you're buying a home, here are a few reasons local school ratings matter, even if you don't have kids.

1. The next buyer will consider the school ratings, too

According to the 2014 National Association of REALTORS Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 29 percent of homebuyers listed school quality and 22 percent listed proximity to schools as deciding factors in their home purchase. Another survey conducted by Realtor.com showed that 91 percent of the people surveyed included school district boundaries in their decision-making process. You may be surprised to learn that not all of the shoppers involved in the studies had kids.

2. More money spent on schools means more money spent on homes

There's a correlation between school expenditures and home values in any given neighborhood, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. Their report, "Using Market Valuation to Assess Public School Spending," found that for every dollar spent on public schools in a community, home values increased $20.

3. Higher school ratings equal higher home values

A Brookings Institution study looked at the 100 largest metro areas in the country and found an average difference of $205,000 in home prices between houses near high-performing and low-performing schools.

4. And good school ratings help homes maintain value

While changes in the economic landscape and local area can ripple across the market, a great school district can sometimes help insulate a home from market fluctuations.

5. Great school districts usually mean great neighborhoods

Often there's a correlation between super school districts and safer neighborhoods, better shopping and transportation and great public amenities – like parks. All of these factors increase the desirability of the neighborhood, which translates to higher home values and a better deal for you when it's time to sell.

Start the search for your new home today with RE/MAX Realty Group and RE/MAX 100. 

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    7 Tips for Packing and Moving Quickly

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    (RE/MAX Blog)- The sudden victory of Theresa May, Britain's new prime minister, meant former Prime Minister David Cameron had to vacate 10 Downing Street in about 48 hours. Needless to say, Cameron did not pack his own dishes. Professional movers arrived with a reported 330 boxes, 30 rolls of tape and three rolls of bubble wrap. Hopefully when you move, you'll have more lead time – and just as much help. But in case you don't, here are a few tips to help maximize what time you do have.

    1. Gather your tools
    Pick a place to be your packing station so you don't waste time constantly wandering the house, hunting for your Sharpie or the right-sized box. Stock it with plenty of tape, boxes of various sizes, bubble wrap, newspapers and markers.

    2. Stick to a strategy
    Pack vital things together, in specially marked boxes. This includes what you'll want on your first day, like sheets, pet food, electronics chargers, toiletries and a change of clothes. Then pack one room at a time and label boxes by room. It's helpful to color code rooms, whether with markers or strips of duct tape.

    3. Use plenty of trash bags
    To avoid confusion, buy them in two colors, one for packing and one for throwing things away. Don't be afraid to pack clothing and linens in the big plastic bags. You can squish them in between boxes to save space.

    4. Fill your drawers
    If you're using professional movers (and not friends with sensitive backs), pack your dresser drawers full. Otherwise, you're wasting space.

    5. Watch your weight
    Fill big boxes with lightweight items and small boxes with the heavy stuff. It'll help prevent the boxes from breaking down.

    6. Don't get hung up on clothes
    Wardrobe boxes make it easy to simply transfer your clothes on hangers rather than bothering with unhanging and folding.

    7. If you've got the bucks…
    Use professional packers. You can hire them to pack your whole home, just a room or a group of time-consuming items, like your extensive collection of fragile ceramic clowns.

    Start your home search today.

    6 Lessons Monopoly Can Teach You About Home Buying

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    (RE/MAX Blog)

    1. Patience
    MONOPOLY: So your family has decided to play Monopoly? Refill your beverage, grab a snack and change into comfortable clothes. You’re going to be there a while.

    LESSON: Buying real estate is a process. There’s pre-approval for a loan, interviewing agents, searching for homes, submitting an offer, maybe submitting another offer, the home inspection, the appraisal, and final loan processing before you get the keys. Needless to say, buying a home can take some time. Instead of getting frustrated, focus on all of the great reasons you decided buying  a home was right for you. Staying in close communication with your agent throughout the process will help, too.

    2. Neighborhood matters
    MONOPOLY: Everyone starts the game with one corner in mind: Boardwalk and Park Place. The highly priced properties have the best returns on investments, and the players who snag them first tend to do well in the game.

    LESSON: Location is often a major consideration in real life as well. Home values, your lifestyle and so much more are factors in your neighborhood choice. Work with your agent to learn all you can about the neighborhoods that pique your interest.

    3. Keep an open mind
    MONOPOLY: Baltic and Mediterranean Avenue have a bad reputation because they’re the cheapest properties on the board, but they also present opportunity. Add a few houses and hotels and your return could be bigger than the one on nearby Connecticut Avenue.

    LESSON: Keep an open mind when shopping for a home. An up-and-coming neighborhood may have appeal you didn’t see before, and more value for your budget.

    4. Be prepared
    MONOPOLY: You’re a Monopoly mogul! You have a handful of desirable properties and a steady stream of income from your houses and hotels. Then comes the Chance card: “Make general repairs on your property – for each house pay $25, for each hotel pay $100.”

    LESSON: You never know what card you’re going to draw. But unlike Monopoly, the real world has home insurance available to help you prepare for unexpected repairs and disasters. A variety of plans, customizable to any budget, are available. Some homebuyers also opt for warranties covering potential appliance issues after move-in.

    5. How to win a bidding war
    MONOPOLY: Trading properties keeps Monopoly exciting. And there are no strict rules as to how a seller determines to accept an offer. Sibling rivalry, bribes involving candy or even business sense can play into a player’s decision.

    LESSON: Sellers don’t always accept the highest offer. Writing a letter about why you fell in love with their home can sometimes sway their decision in your favor.

    6. The importance of strategy
    MONOPOLY: Monopoly is a game of strategy, but few players are inclined to study ways to win. What if you had a coach sitting next to you, advising how much to bid for a property, where to look next, and whether or not mortgaging a utility to buy Boardwalk is a smart idea? You would be unstoppable!

    LESSON: Buying a home is an infrequent occurrence; for some it happens only once in a lifetime. Wouldn’t it be helpful to have someone on your side who was up-to-speed on laws for your state, knew which neighborhoods would best fit your lifestyle and offered to help you navigate a bidding war? That’s the value an experienced agent provides.

    Let us help you start your search for a new home today.

    8 Ways to Give Back to Your Community During the Holidays

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    (RE/MAX Blog)- Looking for ways to give back this holiday season? Here are a few ideas.

    1. Go for wags and wiggles

    Local animal shelters always need an extra hand, whether it's for walking dogs, socializing cats or the critical daily chores required to save homeless pets.

    2. Yes you can

    Clear your cabinets of canned food and other non-perishable items – or fill a shopping cart at the store with items to donate – and drop them off at your local food bank.

    3. Schmooze with seniors

    Volunteer at a local senior center and spend time with an older person who might be feeling especially lonely around the holidays.

    4. Give fun

    The Marine Toys for Tots Foundation collects gifts for kids from needy families. Donation boxes can often be found at local businesses. You can also consider organizing your own collection. Learn more at www.toysfortots.org.

    5. Swing a hammer

    Santa's not the only one on the rooftops this time of year. The national nonprofit Habitat for Humanity always has projects going. See where you can help in your neighborhood at www.habitat.org.

    6. Help the homeless

    From helping to serve a holiday meal at a shelter to assisting with job training, check in with the National Coalition for the Homeless to find out how you can help.

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    Buying a Home this Fall? Read This!

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    (RE/MAX Blog)- With warm temperatures and long days, Summer has traditionally been the high season for buying and selling real estate. But don't discount these advantages that crop up when temperatures fall.

    The long-held belief that summer is the best time to buy a home is fading fast. Savvy home buyers are learning that when fall hits, numerous benefits emerge that simply aren't available other times of the year. 

    If you're in the market to purchase a home, there's no need to hang up your house-hunting that until spring or summer. Here are six reasons why now might just be the best time to purchase a home. 

    1. Year-End Tax Breaks

    As long as you can close on the property on or before Dec. 31, any property tax and mortgage interest paid are tax-deductible for that year. This can dramatically impact the amount of money you owe Uncle Sam, or increase your refund. 

    2. Less Competition

    The National Association of Realtors recently noted that, in an average year, nearly half of all home sales occur from May to August. Although most people wait until the hustle and bustle of the spring selling season, you'll likely encounter less competition during fall and winter. That means less stress and reduced chance you'll be involved in a bidding war. 

    3. Eager Sellers

    Sellers become more motivated the longer their home is on the market, especially now that the summer rush is over. If a home has been listed for a while, it may allow buyers more room for negotiation and potentially a better deal. 

    4. Cheaper Moving Prices

    You're probably planning to hire a moving company in some capacity, whether you're moving across town or across the country. In the fall and winter, moving companies tend to be less busy, which means you might enjoy more flexible schedules and lower prices. 

    5. Quicker Transactions

    Motivated sellers paired with less-busy title companies may mean a faster closing in fall and winter. Do you want a new home in time for the holidays or new year? It's entirely possible when you house hunt now. 

    6. Easier to Outfit Your Home

    Need a new couch, cutlery or curtains for your home? Year-end sales are perfect for scoring a deal on these otherwise expensive items.

    Start your job hunt today with RE/MAX Realty Group and RE/MAX 100. 

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      First-time homebuyers: You're closer to a down payment than you think

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      (RE/MAX Blog)- For many first-time buyers, saving for a down payment is the most difficult step in the home-buying process. However, it's a common misconception that you need 20 percent down to buy a home.

      Actually, lenders across the country offer mortgage products with very affordable down payments — some as low as 3 percent.

      Owning a home has always been a key component of the American Dream; in fact, many surveys show that 65 percent of Millennials agree that homeownership and the American Dream go hand-in-hand. Home ownership also comes with several benefits like building equity, receiving annual tax deductions and becoming more engaged with the local community. It serves as a stepping stone for long-term wealth creation, too. Historically, first-time buyers have represented 40 percent of all home purchasers, but today they make up about 30 percent, according to the National Association of Realtors. Down payment misconceptions could be to blame.

      "It's safe to say that most first-time buyers aren't aware that there are reasonable loan options available that require less money down," says Geoff Lewis, president of RE/MAX, LLC. "Choosing an option with a smaller down payment can make it possible for potential buyers to enjoy the benefits of homeownership sooner."

      Most popular low down payment options

      * FHA Loans — Traditionally the mortgage of choice for first-time buyers, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), offers government-insured loans with as little as 3.5 percent down. The most popular FHA loan option, the 203(b), is widely available from lenders across the country. You may qualify with a credit score of just 500, although there may be limitations on some condo purchases.

      * Home Possible from Freddie Mac — This program allows you to put between 3 and 5 percent down, as long as you intend to use the purchased house as your primary residence, and don't currently own or share ownership of another house. You'll also need to complete a required homeownership education program online.

      * Conventional 97 from Fannie Mae — Just 3 percent down is enough to help you qualify for a Conventional 97, as long as you're applying for a fixed-rate mortgage on a single-family home that's less than $417,000. You'll also need to participate in a homeownership education program, and at least one of the purchasers applying for the loan must be a first-time buyer.

      * HomeReady from Fannie Mae — Another option that requires as little as 3 percent down, HomeReady can offer below-market interest rates. This program also allows non-occupant borrowers to apply; for example, parents can secure this type of loan for a young adult, who's just starting to establish credit.

      In addition to these mortgage options, there are also a variety of down payment assistance programs that may be available through your state or lender. Today, many loan programs allow for down-payment funds to come from third party sources, like cash gifts from relatives.

      Buying a home with a smaller down payment has distinct advantages too. You're less likely to become "house poor," which can happen when you spend the majority of your total savings on home ownership, leaving little cash in reserve for unforeseen emergencies or desirable home improvements.

      Something to keep in mind when considering your loan options: putting less than 20 percent down can also result in the additional monthly cost of Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). However, if your home value is appreciating, PMI can be eliminated in a few years through refinancing.

      "Homeownership isn't reserved just for people who can afford a large down payment. Mortgages that offer an option for less cash down are making it possible for many to enjoy the American Dream," Lewis says. "Mortgages are like any other product, you have to shop around to find the one that works best for you. Lenders and real estate agents can give you a good idea of what your choices are."

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      9 Tips for Creating the Perfect Guest Room

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      (RE/MAX Blog)- The holidays are coming – is your home ready for overnight guests? Follow these suggestions to create the perfect guest room for friends and family.

      1. Offer reading material

      A pile of recent magazines or a shelf of assorted books offers guests a way to wind down before bed.

      2. Add flowers

      A simple flower arrangement adds class and color to any room.

      3. Provide seating

      Make sure there's somewhere cozy for guests to sit if they need some alone time during holiday chaos.

      4. Make wi-fi connection easy

      Leave a piece of paper with your internet server's name and password on the dresser so guests can easily access your wireless connection.

      5. Did they forget something?

      Fill a basket with sample-sized containers of essentials, like toothpaste, mouthwash and shampoo.

      6. Add a luggage stand

      Put out a folding luggage stand where guests can prop their suitcases to avoid having to squat all the way down to the floor every time they need something.

      7. Make the closet functional

      Be sure to stock the closet with empty hangers for guest's clothes.

      8. Add charm with decorations

      Create a welcoming, calm space for guests. Err on the side of generic. Remember, not everyone wants to sleep surrounded by Star Wars-themed decorations or your horror movie poster collection.

      9. A picture perfect welcome

      Place a framed photo of you and your guest on the nightstand.

      Is your "guest room" your living room sofa? Maybe it's time to look for a larger space. Start the search for your new home with RE/MAX Realty Group/100 today.