Blog :: 11-2016

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.

 

 

 

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.

4 Things Only a Realtor (and Not the Internet) Knows About Real Estate

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(RE/MAX Blog)- According to the National Association of Realtors, 42 percent of homebuyers start their home search online, and 92 percent use the Web during the home search process. While the Internet can be a good place to start looking, there are things real estate agents know about the process of buying and selling a home that can't be found in any Web browser.

Here are a few.

1. How to price a home

When setting a listing price, agents consider scores of factors, from local and national market trends and neighborhood development activity to the latest buyer preferences for kitchen appliances and landscaping. Every home is unique, and an agent with a track record of success knows how to price it attractively in the market.

The Internet isn't always much help when it comes to comparison shopping, either. Many of the same factors that help an agent set an appropriate listing price aren't available in an algorithm, so online estimators aren't always accurate – and could be costly if you purchase without consulting a real, live professional.

2. Marketing offline

While online marketing can certainly be valuable, agents have networks of contacts and years of experience to round out their marketing plans.

And, for buyers, agents often can tap into their network to learn about great properties before they hit the real estate websites or even the MLS.

3. Key points in the process

If you find a home you love online, the website won't be there to guide you through a mortgage application, find a home inspector or advise you what to do if an inspection reveals issues.

4. How to negotiate

Having an experienced, professional negotiator drive your transaction can be vital to reaching a fair price for the property you're buying or selling. A website can give you an estimate of how much a property should cost, but it can't evaluate whether that's a great price or not.

Virtual Reality in Real Estate

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(RE/MAX Blog)- The day many tech lovers have been waiting for is here: Google Daydream View is now available in stores. The new virtual reality headset connects with a smartphone (specifically, Google Pixel) to immerse users in their favorite games, movies or even the latest news story. And at just $79, Daydream is making VR technology more accessible to consumers than ever before.

But the uses of virtual reality technology go beyond entertainment. Here are a few ways VR is making its way into real estate.

1. Open houses

Virtual reality headsets, about the size of a scuba mask, can provide 360-degree virtual reality property tours of homes. The headsets completely fill the user's field of vision with a view of the home, allowing them to look up, down and from side to side. Developers are working on adding more tactile features to the experience, so users can do things like see their own hand opening a door, reports the New York Times.They're even developing smells. One day Realtors might be able to add the smell of virtually baking cookies to their virtual open house.

2. Long-distance shopping

Virtual reality home tours give out-of-town buyers (and local buyers, too) another tool to help narrow down their choices of homes they'd like to physically visit in a limited amount of time.

3. Staging

More affordable than hiring a pro to stage your home, several virtual options allow you to add furniture and decorations to vacant rooms using computer technology. It can help buyers envision a property with different furniture and paint.

There's a lot more to a real estate transaction than VR goggles can replace. Ready to buy or sell your home? Start the process here.

6 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying a Vacation Home

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(RE/MAX Blog)- Have you and your family fallen in love with a vacation spot and you're wondering whether it makes sense to buy there? Here are some key questions to ask yourself (And keep in mind that a great real estate agent can always help you talk through them!).

1. Do you really, really love the location?
It's a good idea to visit the area during the low season. Do you still enjoy it when the ski slopes are green, or when those ocean breezes are too chilly for lounging on the sand?

2. How often can you get there?
Calculate how many times a year you'll be able to use the home. Carefully consider the commute as well as your career and family commitments to determine how much time you realistically can spend there relative to the costs of owning and maintaining the property.

3. Have you talked to the locals?
Spend some quality time at the local coffee shop or microbrewery and chat with people who live in the area year-round. Ask them what they like, and don't like, about living there – and about any cultural trends they've noticed.

4. Could you rent your place if you had to?
Renting out the home when you're not there brings with it a host of other considerations. Does the HOA allow rentals? Would potential renters be interested in the property's amenities, such as a fireplace in a ski town or an inviting deck or patio in a beach community?

5. What about the taxes?
Taxes for a second home can be more complicated than those for your primary residence. Talk to a tax pro and learn more about the tax implications for your specific situation, including taxes on rental income if you plan to rent out the place for part of the year.

6. What's the tab when you're not there?
Calculate the true, year-round cost of owning the home, including utilities and property management when the home isn't occupied.

Start your search today for a vacation home in the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area.

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RE/MAX Realty Group Celebrates 30 Years in Business

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MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MD- RE/MAX Realty Group celebrated its 30th Anniversary on Sunday, November 6, 2016. The brokerage, which serves real estate agents and clients in the Washington Metropolitan area, opened the doors to its first office in Montgomery County, Maryland in 1986. The office was only the third RE/MAX franchise in the county at the time and it quickly grew to become the largest single office in the RE/MAX system.

Today, RE/MAX Realty Group has two office locations in Montgomery County and 145 licensed agents. The RE/MAX Realty Group office locations are two of eight RE/MAX offices owned by Broker/Owner Ken Crowley. Crowley, which opened RE/MAX Realty Group with a former business partner, acquired RE/MAX 100, its six offices and 275 agents in 2015. This brought the total for his company to 400-plus agents and nearly $1.5 billion in sales. The acquisition also made RE/MAX Realty Group and RE/MAX 100 the number one RE/MAX brokerage in Maryland and Northern Virginia, one of 120 largest brokerages in the United States and the seventh largest brokerage in the Washington Metropolitan area.

Broker/Owner Ken Crowley credits a combination of hard work and agent loyalty for the company’s success.

“When our first RE/MAX Realty Group Office opened, RE/MAX was fairly unknown in our marketplace,” said Broker/Owner Ken Crowley. “Yet, even with that against us, there were agents who believed in us and joined our team. It was because of those agents that Realty Group grew into what it is today. The loyalty of all the agents we have today is what continues to allow us to serve our local real estate community. I couldn’t be more grateful.”

RE/MAX Realty Group and RE/MAX 100 have been in business for 30 years and have the reputation of providing quality service to customers and a quality experience to their realtors by providing them with the tools they need to succeed.

Two RE/MAX Realty Group Agents Appear as Guest Expert on Great Day Washington

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MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MD- RE/MAX Realty Group Real Estate Agents Danielle Mannix and Melissa Bernstein both served as guest Real Estate Experts in October on the channel 9 segment "The Real Deal in Real Estate."


Mannix, who made her appearance on Thursday, October 20, 2016 on Great Day Washington, shared her expert advice for first-time homebuyers. She suggested they keep in mind their long term goals and consider the neighborhood, school district, neighborhood amenities and resale value when purchasing a home. Bernstein, who appeared on the show on Thursday, October 6, 2016, shared guidance on how to navigate the bidding process.


"The most important thing is picking the right agent," said Real Estate Agent Melissa Bernstein. "As a buyer, you want a buyer's agent who has experience in listings because they are going to know what a listings agent is looking for in an offer. Many home sellers are now pricing to attract competing offers."

"The Real Deal in Real Estate" airs every two weeks and features a Lender Expert, Title Expert and Real Estate Expert.

For more information on RE/MAX Realty Group and RE/MAX 100, visit www.ournexthouse.com.

RE/MAX Realty Group and RE/MAX 100 have been in business for over 30 years and have the reputation of providing quality service to customers and a quality experience to their realtors by providing them with the tools they need to succeed.

4 Things Your Agent Knows About Negotiating

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(RE/MAX Blog)- Negotiating your deal is one of the most critical aspects of your real estate journey. It's also one of the parts of the process where your agent's experience can make the most dramatic difference. Your home purchase or sale, probably one of the biggest financial transactions you'll make in your life, is not the time to test rookie negotiation skills. Here are just a few things agents, as professional negotiators, know that help them reach the best closing agreement for you.

1. That knowledge is power
In addition to their in-depth knowledge of the market and valuing a home, your agent will have dug into public records about the property and the neighborhood. Your agent will also look into the seller's motivation. Knowing things like whether the seller is under pressure to move quickly can help shape negotiating strategy.

2. How to time it
Sometimes a quick response to an offer is critical. Other times, it's best to keep the other party on the hook. Knowing which strategy to employ is crucial in negotiations.

3. Objectivity is a must
As a professional negotiator, your agent is able to control the process without being affected by the emotions that swirl around real estate transactions for buyers and sellers. Among other potentially expensive missteps, inexperienced negotiators can reveal too much info to the other party, especially during intense, fast-moving negotiations.

4. What to ask for
If you don't ask for something, you won't get it. As your advocate, your agent will know how to ask for things like concessions and repairs in a manner that's most appealing to the other party.

Selling your bike online? Go forth and make a killer deal on that two-wheeler. But when it comes to buying or selling your home, stick with a professional. Real estate negotiation is no place for training wheels.