March 20, 2017

Find Fun Under The Sea Near Baltimore Homes

Make a splash near Baltimore homes at the National Aquarium. Learn all about aquatic creatures that live in the world’s oceans and in other wildlife environments. Divided into sections visitors living in Baltimore can stroll the grounds meeting all kinds of different marine animals. A world of exhibits combine with special events and interactions to create an energetic environment.

Start of in the Amazon River Forest. Here adventurers encounter the Giant South American River Turtle, the largest of the freshwater species. Hopping along, the Giant Waxy Tree Frog is also sure to be found. Watch out for the Emerald Tree Boa and his bright green scales. In the Australia: Wild Extremes setting, surroundings resemble a river gorge. Over a thousand critters from downunder prosper here including freshwater crocs, free flying birds and flying foxes. Colorful fishes swim around in bountiful shades. When strolling through folks may hear the laughing kookaburra and have a lol moment themselves. The journey continues in Maryland: Mountains to See. Explore the homeland and learn about the unique animals, aquatic and on the land, flourishing near Baltimore homes. Featured here are the Blue Crab and American Bullfrog.

Friendly dolphins are seen frolicking in the waves worldwide. At the National Aquarium guests find them in Dolphin Discovery. Here two male and three female Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins amuse all with their antics. Sharks rule the seas, and in Shark Alley a variety of these mysterious beings can be observed. The sleek Sand Tiger Shark is a local favorite.

Residents Living In Baltimore Journey To A World Unknown

Become immersed in a world unknown to humans in the 4D Immersion Theater. This technologically advanced theater takes audience members on a journey with sharks, penguins, and other inhabitants of the ocean. Special sensory effects combine with 3D to make one feel as if they too are in on the action.

The National Aquarium is open seven days a week. Repeat visitors may want to consider becoming a member. For those who can’t get enough several webcams are set up for anytime viewing. View the Jellies Cam anytime.

Posted in Baltimore
March 20, 2017

Play All Day On Baltimore Real Estate

Expend Some Energy on Baltimore Real EstateResidents in the Baltimore real estate area can play all day at Patterson Park. Affectionately called “Baltimore’s Best Backyard” there seems to be no limit of recreation activities to indulge in. A contrasting setting of wide open spaces and wildlife habitat beckons one and all. Visitors hike around the lake, lunch under a shady tree, watch a ballgame, and play with the kids on the playgrounds. Two generous pavilions are perfect sights for holding family events such as birthday parties or reunions.

There’s a pastime for everyone at the Virginia Baker Recreation Center. From sports to art, individuals are constantly learning new skills within the Center’s walls. Multiple courts and fields are home to local sports teams. During the winter ice skating fun is had at the Patterson Park Ice Rink with public skating, ice hockey, and broomball. Chilled fingers and toes are easily toasty again in the warm up area by the fireplace. When the weather warms the park’s swimming pool takes over the entertainment. In the aquatic zone swimmers find a toddler area, lap swim, aqua Zumba, and swim lessons.

History Is All Around Baltimore Property

This prominent Baltimore property has a rich history. Boat Lake which is now a combination of open water and wetland habitat was developed in 1864. Strolling  the shores wildlife is often spotted. Local fisherman surely enjoy a day of casting out in hopes of the big catch. Another historic sight in the park is the 1890’s Pagoda. Lovingly restored in 2002, those in the tower can view downtown Baltimore real estate and Fort McHenry. Special events in Patterson Park are often held here including Concerts In The Park. 

The Patterson Park Audubon Center places a focus on environmental education. Guided hikes are often held along with workshops, children’s programs and bird watching quests.

This jewel of a landscape is a great place to spend time in. Friends and family have thoroughly enjoyed the boundaries of Patterson Park for generations.

 

Posted in Baltimore
March 20, 2017

Embrace Creativity On Baltimore Property

Explore Art Near Baltimore PropertyAn art explosion on Baltimore property transformed a once whisky warehouse to an art museum extraordinaire. In the early days, the American Visionary Art Museum was a haven for so called untrained artists to unveil and display their marvelous works. Thriving as an unconventional museum filled with whimsical and outlandish creations, this piece of Baltimore real estate developed a popular following and maintains a consistently high level of eager visitors.

Dramatic both inside and outside, the building exterior features a mosaic masterpiece. Intermixing with the brick in the building this mural was completed in stages by local and at risk youth. Greeting one and all as they walk onto the Baltimore property is the Giant Whirligig. Standing over fifty feet tall, this colorful contraption serves as the AVAM’s welcome wagon. Multiple floors of eclectic masterpieces are presented in the permanent displays, rotating exhibits, and special events.

Art Is In The Eye Of The Beholder On Baltimore Real Estate

Highlights of the existing collection include the mesmerizing Recovery. Carved out of an apple tree stump by an English mental patient this haunting statue is quite reflective. Another iconic work of art is the Horse Dress also completed by an anonymous crafter. Constructed from wool and synthetic yarn, the clothing courageously expresses personal freedom. The Tall Sculpture Barn holds larger than life depictions including a humongous chess set. Guests wind down in the Wildflower Garden where a wooden chapel sits surrounded by vines and blooms. This space is perfect for meditating for a moment or two.

Special events are often on the schedule. Stop in and browse through the occasional rummage sale, take part in a workshop, or listen intently to an inspirational lecture. Embrace your inner artist with a trip to the American Visionary Art Museum. Doors are open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

 

Posted in Baltimore
Aug. 18, 2016

Baltimore Real Estate Review: July 2016

Here is a quick look at some recent real estate market figures from the Baltimore metro region, city and county.

July was a record-setting month for sales volume and prices in the Baltimore Metro Region. The July median sales price of $267,500 was up 2.9% over last year, marking the highest number since 2008. Sales in the region were up 2.7% as well, which represented an increase of more than $1.1 billion.

An RBI article reports that the Metro Area closed 3,561 sales in July, which was just 1.7% fewer than last year. Also slightly dipping were the number of new contracts, down by 0.2% from last year. The number of new listings also dropped compared by 2.4 percent.

Prices were up across all home types, with townhomes in the lead with an 11.3% increase. Single-family detached homes rose 4.0%, and condominiums rose by 0.8 percent. However, the number of sales decreased both compared with last month and July 2015. The year-over-year decline was small, at just 1.7%, while the drop compared to June was more significant, at a 17.2% decline.

Carroll County saw the largest percentage increase in sales, with a 29.8% jump.  Baltimore County saw the largest decline of sales, decreasing by 12.9 percent. Baltimore City continues to contain the region’s most affordable homes, with a median sales price of $156,900. Howard County reigns as the most expensive, with a July median sales price of $415,000.

Baltimore City

Baltimore City’s real estate patterns in July were similar to those of the region, with increases in prices and declines in sales.

Redfin reported that 754 homes sold in July, which was 42.6% decline in sales from the previous month and 7.3% below last year. Homes listed for sale also dropped slightly, with a 4.1% decrease from June and a 7.1% decline compared to July 2015.

Buyers are bidding close to the asking price, which indicates that the city’s market is gaining strength. The median home sale price was $154,000, which was down 3.7% from June, but up 13.8% above last year. The $129,000 median list price was up 0.2% from June and 12.2% compared with last year.

Zillow reports that Baltimore City’s median home value is currently $115,000.  Home values have climbed 1.7% over the past year and Zillow predicts they will rise by another 1.9% within the year.

According to Trulia, Baltimore City’s most popular neighborhoods in July were Canton and Fells Point, with average list prices at $380,699 and $403,054.

Baltimore County

Baltimore County posted similar numbers, with a decline in sales and increased prices.

According to data from Redfin, 936 Baltimore County homes sold in July. This was a 42.8% decline from June and a 9.3% decline from July 2015. Sellers listed 4,672 homes during July, which was a 0.8% drop from the prior month and an 8.2% decline from last year.

The midpoint for list prices in Baltimore County was $255,000, which was 4.3% above the prior month and 6.5% higher than July 2014. The median home sale price was $227,000, which was down 1.7% from the prior month and up 0.4% from last year.

Studies by Zillow report that Baltimore County’s median home value is currently $227,500. Home values have climbed 3.3% during the past year and Zillow predicts they will rise another 2.1% within the next year.

According to Trulia, Baltimore County’s most popular neighborhoods in July were Owings Mills and Catonsville, with average list prices ranging at $308,217 and $319,210.

I look forward to being part the team that helps you buy or sell your Baltimore home.

Aug. 17, 2016

What to do With Pets While You’re Not Home

Securing your home while you are away on vacation is one thing, making sure your pets are safe and sound is another. It is something that homeowners have to consider when it comes time to taking that holiday they’ve been looking forward to.

The word vacation implies relaxation in an environment with minimal stress. But one thing that can turn that concept on its head is arranging pet care for while you’re gone, or arranging travel with them if you’re bringing them along. Here are some basics of pet travel to consider.

Consider What’s Best for Your Pet

While having your cuddly kitty or perky pooch alongside might make you happiest, it might not be the best decision for the animal. Some animals are not well-suited for travel, either because of age, a medical condition or just their temperament.

If your animal becomes visibly stressed during short car rides, the discomfort it experiences might outweigh the enjoyment it will have being with you on your trip. Also consider how much time you will have during your trip to devote to your pet.

Keeping Your Pets at Home

There are many benefits of leaving your pet at home. The environment will be familiar and comfortable for the animal, which might outweigh the loneliness or boredom it experiences.

Even if you are equipped with a litter box, a doggy door and plenty of food, your pet will need some social interaction each day. In fact, animal experts do not recommend leaving your pet with days worth of food in one serving. Often the animal will ingest all the food at once and become sick. If you’re keeping the critters at home, you will need a petsitter.

Make sure your pet sitter knows how to contact you at all points in your trip. And while things like feeding and playing may seem routine to you, leave your pet sitter with detailed instructions on how much and when to feed, whether treats are acceptable and how to best interact with your pet.

If your pet takes medications, the sitter will need instructions on administering them. The sitter also should be aware of any medical conditions your pet might have. Finally, make sure he has the phone number for your pet’s’ veterinarian, as well as the number for an emergency care center.

You also have the additional peace of mind knowing that there are an extra set of eyes on your home while you are away and that your animals are in a familiar setting.

Use Your Vet as a Resource

If you are having trouble making a decision about your pet’s travel, you can always ask your veterinarian to weigh in. Besides, you want to make sure your pet is up to date on all vaccinations and in good health before you leave. If the doctor feels your pet is suited for travel, he still might be able to prescribe a minor sedative to help your pet relax during the ride.

Traveling in Your Car

If your pets are along for the ride, make sure you have prepared a comfortable traveling space for them within your vehicle. On your lap is not a safe place, or oftentimes a legal one, for your pet to travel. While there is no federal law requiring that you harness pets during travel, many states have laws that restrict pets access to the front seat in a moving vehicle.

Even if you are traveling in a state that allows your pet freedom in the vehicle, there are a number of factors that make it unsafe.

  • Windows

Even though many dogs love it, you should never allow them to stick their heads out of the window. The temporary joy your pooch experiences being whipped in the face by fresh air is outdone by the risk that those forceful gusts could cause damage to its respiratory system. Also, unanticipated road debris could hit and injure your animal—no matter how careful you drive.

  • Airbags

While meant to be life-saving instruments in the event of a major collision, airbags pose a threat to your pets. The smaller your dog, the higher the risk of it being fatally crushed by an airbag deployment. If you must have your pooch passenger side, turn off that airbag.

  • Distracted Driving

Allowing your pets to roam free in the car poses a distraction to you, which ultimately affects your safety and your animals’ safety during travel. And don’t underestimate the power of your pets to pull your focus.

In addition to the expected nuisances of barking, whining or jumping around, pets have been known to climb above your headrest or dive down over your accelerator or brakes—which is a major threat to your safety and other drivers on the road.

Securing Pets in the Car

Your pets may protest at being restrained at first—which is why it’s best to get them used to it at an early age. However, ultimately they usually will be happier. Pets like the sensation of being secure.

Harnessing your dog is a comfortable and effective option, especially for larger dogs. Most harnesses you find on the market will easily attach to the seatbelt, and will provide your dog with some mobility. Some restraints, designed for mid-sized and small dogs, will come with bedding boxes attached. You can create these yourself if you harness the dog and its bed to the seat belt. Your cat should always ride in a carrier.

I look forward to being part of the team that finds the perfect Baltimore home for you and your pets.

Aug. 10, 2016

How to Secure Your Home When You’re on Vacation

It’s a busy month for vacations. People try to get some relaxation and fun in the sun before school starts, cooler weather sets in and life moves back to a more steady routine. Unfortunately, thieves are aware of this, and a visibly empty house becomes a magnet for potential robbers.

If you will be out of town several days or longer, it is also a good idea to enlist some homecare help to maintain the house and save energy costs. Here are some tips for taking care of your home while you’re away on vacation.

Plan for the Mail

A stack of newspapers in the driveway or an overflowing mailbox is flashing sign for “we’re not home.” And packages left for days on the doorstep might not survive your return. Planning for the mail is a must if you will be gone longer than a few days.

One option is to ask a neighbor or friend to pick up your mail for you. If you aren’t able to find someone—or don’t feel comfortable asking—you can always place holds on your mail. You can request a hold for up to 30 days, either by filling out an Authorization to Hold Mail form and returning it to your local Post Office, or by completing a request online. You can indicate the date you want redelivery to begin, including all of your held mail, or call 1-800-ASK-USPS when you get back.

Similarly, if you receive newspapers, you can call their subscription offices and provide the stop and restart date for your service.

Install Electronic Timers

A dark house at night for consecutive days is a sure sign that no one is home. But so is leaving all the lights blaring 24/7, which also will burn out your bulbs and waste electricity. Consider putting your lights on pre-programmable timers, so their on and off patterns can remain similar to when you are home.

There are a variety of timers that plug directly into outlets, making it possible for you to use them for any electronic item. While setting your lamps is a given, you might want to put your television or or radio into the rotation. The evening noise and flickering lights will give the impression that someone is inside.

Keep it Off Social Media

You probably see your friends post information about their upcoming vacations on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Just because it is a common practice doesn’t make it a wise idea. At a minimum, check your account settings before posting any information that reveals when you are away.

If you decide to post before or during the trip, make sure that you trust each of your contacts, that your posts are private and not shared with friends of friends, and that any comments your friends might post won’t be seen by their friends either. But know that ultimately that your friends can reshare anything you post online. If you want to avoid all risk, just wait until you return and then post all those envious images of your trip.

Lock Everything

This might seem overly obvious, but you will undermine all the efforts you’ve taken to secure your home if you forget to lock one of the doors. Check and recheck main, doors, side doors, sliding glass doors, garage doors, etc. And don’t forget about the windows. If you have someone coming to check on the house, deliver the key in person rather than leaving it under the mat (or under the flower pot, a fake rock or in the mailbox). Those are the first places thieves will look, and they probably know more creative hiding spots than you do.

Don’t Leave the Trash Out

Plan ahead for your waste disposable prior to your trip. It will look suspicious if trash day is Friday and your filled garbage cans are sitting on the curb Tuesday. And similarly conspicuous if the empty cans are still there Sunday. Make sure you put all your trash out for collection prior to your vacation, or ask a neighbor to do it for you—and make sure they also remove the empty cans from the curb.

Plant Care

Most houseplants can withstand a week or more without watering—they may be a bit wilted and angry by the time you return, but they will survive. Just make sure you give them a healthy dose of hydration before you leave. If you are going to be gone longer than a week, you might solicit a friend or neighbor to water them.

If that isn’t possible, there are still things you can do to keep your plants healthy for weeks without you. First, make sure all the blinds and shades are closed to help cool your house. Plants need less water in cooler temperatures. You might also want to move them slightly away from window ledges or other surfaces the sunlight might warm during the day.

Consider purchasing watering bulbs, which are cylindrical tubes with a bulb on the end that you fill with water than then place in the plant’s soil. It will release water as the plant needs it for up to two weeks.

Enjoy wherever you travel. I look forward to being part of the team that helps you buy or sell your Baltimore home.

July 22, 2016

Baltimore Real Estate Review: June 2016

Here is a quick look at some recent Baltimore real estate market figures from the region, county and city.

According to RBI, the summer continues to be strong for the Baltimore real estate market. The region’s 4,303 home-sales increase was 4.7% over last year, making this the largest number of June sales in a decade, as well as the 23rd consecutive month of increases. The metro area also saw June records for median sales price, which reached $275,000, boasting 5.8% growth from last year and at its highest amount since 2007. Last month also had the highest number of June pending sales in a decade, with 4,260, which was up 4.7% from last year.

Prices were up year-over-year among all home categories: condominiums, 5.3%; townhomes, 3.3%; and single-family homes, 4.8%. Baltimore City continued to have the area’s most inexpensive homes, an averaged $154,950, which was 6.9% higher than last year. Howard County homes reigned as priciest, with the median at $419,800, 0.1% above June 2015. Harford County homes saw highest year-over-year appreciation, with an 8.9% gain, causing the median to rise to $259,900.

For shoppers, new listings were abundant in June across the metro area, with 5,810 properties up on the market. This was more than double the number of new listings during June 2012’s low, and is up year-over-year as well, rising 5.8 percent. The median days on market for June was 22, a decrease of six days compared with last year. Condos sold slightly faster than townhomes or single-family homes.

Baltimore County Real Estate

Baltimore County saw increases in home sales, new inventories and prices compared with last month, though sales and prices declined somewhat compared to June 2015. According to data from Redfin, 1,171 homes in the county sold in June, which created a 16.4% increase over May, and a 21.2% year-over-year drop. Sellers listed 4,674 homes in Baltimore County during June, which was up 1.1% from May and down 7% from last year.

Courtesy: Redfin

The midpoint for list prices in Baltimore County was $250,000, which was was unchanged since last month and up 8.7% in annual comparisons. The median home sale price was $227,000, which was 3.1% higher than the previous month, but down 2.4% from June 2014. The median sale-to-list price was 98.6%, indicating the perfect temperature between buyers and sellers.

Zillow reports that Baltimore County’s median home value is currently $226,800. Home values have risen by 3.1% over the past year and are predicted to rise another 2.1% within the next year. Areas highest on Zillow’s home value index include Phoenix and Monkton, with values currently averaging $457,300 and $423,400.

Baltimore City Real Estate

Baltimore City also trended upward in median sales prices, while declining in sales and new listings. Redfin reported that 926 homes sold in the city during June, which was up 9.2% over May, but 20.1% below June 2015. Sellers listed 4,687 homes in June, which was unchanged since May and was down 3.9% since last year.

Courtesy: Redfin

The median list price was $130,000, which was the same as last month and was up 12.8% from last year. The $155,000 median sale price (higher than median list price) increased by 4% from May, and was also up 7.6% from June 2015. June’s median sale-to-list price of 99.7% indicates buyers’ and sellers’ expectations were typically met.

Zillow estimates that the median home value in Baltimore City is $114,900. Baltimore City home values climbed 2.9% during the past year, and Zillow predicts they will rise another 2.2% in the next year.

Areas with average values highest on Zillow’s home value index include Downtown Baltimore at $214,100, and Johnston Square at $65,500. Trulia reports that popular neighborhoods within Baltimore include Canton and Fells Point, with average listing prices of $377,015 and $382,263.

I look forward to being part of the team that helps you buy or sell your Baltimore home.

July 1, 2016

Selling Your Home In The Summer

The summer months see the housing market’s peak in activity, so it is a great time to sell your home. However, you shouldn’t be discouraged if your home is on the market and you haven’t yet closed a sale. There are still plenty of opportunities to sell in the summer, and you will see fewer competitors than during the frenzied spring season. Make sure you are maximizing your chances by taking advantage of the outdoor and indoor features that buyers will look for in warm weather. Chances are there is something you can do to make your home a more attractive purchase.

Have Great Listing Photos

Make sure your listing has great photos attached that reflect the current season. Photos of your house in the snow, no matter how glistening, will turn off summer buyers. In many cases, the first photo makes the prospective buyer decide whether he wants to seek more information about the listing. Nearly nine out of 10 buyers will not seek more information about a property if it does not post a listing photo.

Most agents will agree that the quality of the photos is more important than quantity, but you should try to have a photo to go with every main point in your listing. Make sure you have attractive exterior shots and choose photos that highlight outdoor areas. Focus indoor attention on the living room, kitchen and master bedroom.

Do not use photo editing tools to alter the appearance of your home. Photography-savvy buyers will immediately recognize, and be wary of, disingenuous pictures. And you are likely to disappoint others when they arrive to look at the home if they have a different impression of what they would find.

Read this article for a guide to avoiding listing photo mistakes.

Create Curb Appeal

Think of your curb appeal as the powerful first impression your home will give viewers when it first comes into sight—all the way to your front door. When it comes to selling your home, it is OK to compare yourself to others. Your yard should have unique touches, but not stand out significantly from the rest of the block.

Make sure driveways or walkways are free of dirt and debris. Power washing the driveway and sidewalk around your house can give your property a polished look that will attract buyers. Power washers are relatively inexpensive to rent and easy to use.

Prospective purchasers also will look more closely at your porch and patio during the warmer months. If you don’t have a deck, set up small table and chairs to create the illusion of an outdoor room. This will show that your home is an inviting place that welcomes guests, and buyers who plan to spend time outdoors will see that there is a comfortable place to do it.

Check out this article for more ways to enhance your curb appeal.

Prepare the Yard

After last spring — which was a wet and chilly one — you can expect to find some dirt and debris in your yard. Perhaps you’ve raked dried leaves and branches, and disposed of garbage that wandered onto your property. But take a second look and make sure you cleaned the yard thoroughly, which could include pruning tree branches or shrubs. Overgrown vegetation may block the windows or path to the entrance, which reduces the sunlight that travels into your home.

Lawn maintenance is key if your house is listed for sale. Make sure the lawn is freshly mowed and weeded at all times—about twice per week to be safe. If your exterior has little-to-minimal landscaping, consider planting some relatively mature flowers or shrubs.

Read this article for more tips about caring for your lawn during the summer.

Wash the Windows

Open the curtains and blinds during your showing. This will give you another opportunity to show off your outdoor view, while brightening your home inside and creating a pleasant ambiance.  Buyers will be drawn to your home when it lets in more sunlight, but also more aware of flaws. They may not notice an occasional, tiny smudge, but it is better to be rid of them completely.

Clean your windows thoroughly—both inside and out. Make sure all coverings are clean, dry and newly pressed. Wipe dust off the blinds or toss them into a soapy bathtub for a quick wash. If any of these need upgrading, now is the time to invest.

BobVila.com has some additional tips for cleaning your windows.

Keep it Cool with Color

You should change your decoration scheme to complement the season. Add vivid blue decor items for a calming effect that will make your visitors dream of a relaxing day at the ocean. Replace dark-colored accent pillows and throw rugs with brighter, summer hues.

Check out Martha Stewart’s 60 ideas for decorating your home in the summer.

Pool

If you have a pool in your backyard, your home is automatically suited to sell in the summer. Owning a pool is not essential in the Baltimore area, but if you’ve got one then why not make it a selling point? Highlight your pool during showings, which means it must be clean and free of debris. Lining up lounge chairs and umbrellas along the poolside is a great way to give it a resort feeling.

Check out these helpful tips for selling a home with a pool.

Turn on the Air Conditioning

Plan to dial back the thermostat to a comfortable temperature if you are selling your home this summer. Somewhere in the range of 70-72 degrees is probably your safest bet at pleasing the largest number of people. Remember that it will take time for the temperature to drop to its desired levels, so if you plan to turn off the AC when you’re not showing the home, you will need to adjust the temperature an hour or so before each showing. Just be careful—you’ll want to make sure it’s not so cold that potential buyers will be searching for their sweaters, but cool enough that they won’t want to head back out into the heat.

Upgrade and Update

By no means should you replace everything in your home with its newest version, but your home should not contain appliances that are visibly outdated or don’t function properly. If the buyer gets the impression that he has to perform major renovations or replace a lot of items, it may deter him from making an offer. As the quality of your appliances increases, so does your home’s value. However, you need to consider whether the increase exceeds the investment in new equipment. The highest-yielding returns on modern appliances come from the kitchen.

The master bedroom should appeal to both men and women, so remove any décor that is too gender specific. If the paint has worn thin, refresh it with a new coat. Check doorknobs and light switches to see they look new and work easily. Take the time now to take care of anything you know won’t pass a home inspection, like a leaky faucet or faulty garbage disposal. It usually costs less to fix things before a home inspection, so completing repairs now will save money down the line and ensure a quicker sale.

Check out these shopping tips for your new appliances.

Make Sure Your Home is Realistically Priced

There is almost nothing that will make your home sit longer on the market than asking for too much money. When sellers see a property listed sky-high, most of the time they won’t bother even looking at it. Your home needs to list similarly to comparable properties in your area.Have some faith in the market, and don’t ask for much larger sums than you realistically expect to receive. The Baltimore real estate market in the city, county and metro area has a relatively stable sale-to-list price. Buyers in this market will see that many properties sell for somewhere around the asking price, so if you ask for too much — thinking that you will have room to negotiate downward — you might just have discouraged potential buyers.

Zillow offers these suggestions for pricing your home to sell.

Use Social Media

Your real-estate agent will ensure that your Baltimore home is listed on its website, as well as major real-estate search engines like Zillow and Trulia, which will draw attention from people searching for a home like yours. However, you can spread the word about your home through social sites such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Most social media sites get more traffic during the summer months. People sign on to post pictures of their vacations, weekend getaways or other outdoor activities. You can use these sites to link to your listing, or even post a video about your home. Chances are good that at least one of your contacts will know someone in the market for a new Baltimore home.

Be Ready for the Show

The more stringent you are with your showing hours, the fewer potential buyers that will walk through your door. You should offer times that are convenient for people’s work schedules, which means quite a broad range of times. Some people like to skip out of work early to enjoy the summer weather, while others are active until later hours because it is still light outside. Always be ready for a last-minute request to show your home.

Being prepared means being squeaky clean—you never want to turn a potential buyer away because your home isn’t in showable condition. That means it is clean to professional standards and that the beds are made, the dishes are out of the sink, the laundry is away, towels are folded, jackets or sweaters are in closets, and more. Even though you likely won’t be home for a showing, greet buyers like you would party guests. A cool pitcher of lemonade in the summer can offer a refreshing treat, while helping buyers enjoy the home a little bit longer.

Be Patient

It’s way too soon for panic mode. Remember that people go on vacation, have to watch over children who are home from school, and are engaged in other summer activities. It just might take time for people to clear their schedule to look at a home, especially if they are not on a time crunch.

Don’t expect everyone who sees your home to bid, and don’t expect that everyone will bid reasonably. On the other hand, keep your ego in check and work with a buyer if he is making reasonable negotiations.

For more advice on selling in summer, contact the expert agents at the Harriett Wasserman Team. I look forward to being part of the team that helps you sell (or buy) your Baltimore home.

June 20, 2016

What To Know Before Buying A Vacation Home

Vacation season is upon us, and at some point you might have considered a purchasing summer property. Buying a vacation home can create several advantages, such as eliminating the hassles associated with reserving hotel rooms or rental properties, traveling alongside thousands of other leisure-seekers and deciding what to do with the pets back at home.

However, buying a vacation home is not a walk on the beach. It’s a serious financial decision that should be weighed carefully. Here are some things to evaluate if you are considering a home away from home.

Location

Go with the location you know. Be wary of buying a home somewhere you haven’t visited frequently. Just because it looks good on the Internet doesn’t mean that it’s the right fit for you. You need to have been there and enjoyed yourself enough to make it your permanent vacation destination. And make sure the distance is within reach, unless you have definite plans for how you will travel there. More than 80 percent of vacation homeowners purchase property within driving distance, and about half purchase within 50 miles of home.

Function

Think about the length of time you will spend in your vacation home each year, as well as the people your home will serve. If the main purpose is for family to gather together and enjoy each other’s company, you will want to select an area that is easy for family to access and offers a variety of activities suitable for children and adults. Is the home accessible to extended family, and if not, how comfortable will people be with traveling?

You should make sure your real estate agent knows your specific intention for the home so he can help purchase a property that suits its purpose. For example, not all vacation homes can be used as rental properties. Also, homes in resort areas might require you to use their furniture and amenities, while others might require a percentage of the rent.

Plan for Vacancy

Substantial time periods where a home sits empty are more likely to attract thefts. Ensure that it is not obvious that no one is home. Some ways to do this include setting lights on timers, asking neighbors to occasionally park in your driveway and finding someone to pick up your mail or using a post office box address for the home.

Cost

The purchase price is an obvious consideration, but factor in the secondary costs such as HOA/condo fees, utilities, cost of furnishing and property taxes. Remember that you pay these fees whether you occupy the home or not.

Work Required

It requires work to maintain a vacation home, so factor in some of your days at the beach or ski resort as lost to the home-repair process. If you rent out the property, factor in time to clean and make other preparations for new tenants.

Rentals

Many owners will choose to rent their vacation homes when they are not occupying the residence. If you plan to rent out the property, you need to develop a business plan. If you will handle advertising on your own, you will need professional-grade photos. Or, you can opt to use services such as AirBnb or HomeAway to handle the marketing, but be advised that these companies will take a cut of the rent. You also should thoroughly research rental trends in the area, to include the average cost and length of rental that’s typical to that location.

Financing

The financing process for a vacation property is usually a bit different than for a primary home.

Down Payment

Buyers typically put down 20% to 50%, and some even pay in cash. If the funds are not already sitting in your bank account, you can draw a home-equity line of credit on your primary residence. Mortgage interest on a second home is deductible on as much as $1 million in principal for both homes combined.

Interest Rates

Lenders might require higher interest rates on mortgages for a second home, because they consider there to be a higher risk of owners not making their payments on time or defaulting on the loan. They’ll expect you to stay within the debt-to-income limits dictated by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which means that total monthly payments on all mortgages cannot exceed 28% of your total monthly income.

Renting

Even if you plan to rent out the home, projected income will not count toward your financial requirements. You can rent your place for up to 14 days a year and pocket the rental income without having it on your tax return. If you rent it out for more than 14 days, the IRS considers you a landlord.

Tax Deductions

You’re limited to deducting a $1.1 million interest deduction on the principal for all homes you own combined.

I look forward to being part of the team that helps you buy or sell your new Baltimore home.

June 14, 2016

Baltimore Real Estate Review: May 2016

Here is a quick look at some recent Baltimore real estate market figures from the region, county and city.

According to RBI, the housing market in the Baltimore Metro Area saw increases in median sales prices, as well as total sales and pending contracts. May closed sales were up 15.1% over June 2015, and pending contracts by 6.8%, which for both categories marked the highest May numbers in a decade. The overall regional median sales price was $262,000, up 4.8% from last year and 7.8% from last month.

All areas of the region experienced sales growth, with the largest percentage in Carroll County (up 28.6%) and the smallest in Howard County (up 8.9%). Year-over-year condo prices increased by 10.6%, single-family home prices were up 4.4% and townhome prices were up 0.4%.

However, the number of new and active listings declined in May, representing the largest decline in inventory growth since June 2013. Only Baltimore City saw any growth in new listings. The largest declines occurred in Harford County, which dropped in year-over-year listings by 16 percent.

Baltimore City saw the highest year-over-year appreciation, with a growth of 9.2%, and remained the most affordable area in the metro region. Howard County continued to be the most expensive area.

courtesy: Redfin

Baltimore County experienced a solid month across most areas, with gains in every category except year-over-year listings. According to Redfin data, the sales in the county increased by 6.0% over last month and 5.7% over last year. Median sales prices also saw a jump of 6.5% above April, as well as 7.0% over May 2015. A sale-to-list price of 98.4% indicated that sellers received approximately what they asked for, and buyers generally paid what they expected.

New listings rose 1.3% during May, with 3,080 properties on the market, but declined by 16.6% since last year. The midpoint for list prices was $260,000, which was up 2.0% from last month and 13.0% from May 2015.

According to Zillow, the average home value in Baltimore County is $220,800. The county’s home values increased 2.3% during the past year, and Zillow predicts they will rise by another 1.3% in the next year. Areas with average values highest on Zillow’s Home Value Index included Phoenix at $457,300, and Monkton at $423,400.

Courtesy: Redfin

In Baltimore City, sales prices increased significantly both year-over-year and monthly. According to Redfin, the city saw a median sales price of $150,000, which was 15.4% higher than last month and 33.9% above last year. The 821 homes sold represented an 8.9% increase over April, and held steady with numbers from May 2015. A 99.6% sale-to-list price indicated a balanced dynamic between buyers and sellers in the city.

Home listings decreased by 1.9% from last month and declined 3.9% since May 2015, with 3,308 properties on the market. Average list prices were up in May, with the median price posted at $130,000. This represented a 3.9% jump from April and a 15.7% increase since May 2015.

Zillow estimates that the median home value in Baltimore City is $113,600. Baltimore City home values climbed 7.1% during the past year, and Zillow predicts they will rise another 2.5% in the rest of the year.

Areas with average values highest on Zillow’s Home Value Index included Downtown Baltimore at $214,100, and Johnston Square at $65,500. Trulia reported that popular neighborhoods within Baltimore included Canton and Upper Fells Point, with average listing prices of $304,914 and $326,036.

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to being the team that helps you buy or sell your Baltimore home.