Is Real Estate Still a Good Investment?

If you had asked an educated investor that question ten years ago, they would most likely have looked at you as if you needed therapy. Of course real estate was an essential investment! Stock markets historically go through periods of bubble and bust. Real estate holdings gave stability to many portfolios because the boom and bust cycle tended to be much less dramatic. The Great Recession shook a lot of people’s confidence in that core belief. It was with great interest that I read a report at the end of June from CoreLogic that more than 11% of home purchasers […]

Baltimore at a Crossroads

With the recent resignation, in disgrace, of Mayor Catherine Pugh, Baltimore finds itself at a  crucial inflection point in its history.   The last three elected leaders of the city have left office either as a result of criminal corruption or ineffectual incompetence. During the same period, the leadership of the police department has become a revolving door for the same reasons: one of our recent police chiefs is currently in jail for income tax evasion. The resulting rise in the city’s murder rate can only be seen as a direct result of the poor choices made by those selected […]

Appreciate Your Appreciation

Good news for home sellers in many parts of the US. It’s time to “appreciate your appreciation,” if you are thinking of selling your home. Being a homeowner, these days just might make you feel like a terribly savvy investor, especially in the western US. Home sellers are realizing a sizable return on their investment according to ATTOM Data Solutions. Those who sold their homes in the first quarter of 2019 made a 31.5% return, pocketing an average gain of $57,500. “While home seller gains are down from Q4 2018’s $60,000, they are still up year over year, when price […]

Has Spring Already Sprung?

According to the calendar, spring is just a few weeks old. If you look at the weather, only the hardiest of flowers and trees have started awakening from their winter slumber, and the temperatures are anything but balmy. Nobody I know has put away their winter coats for the season. The housing market seems to hold a completely contrary opinion, however. According to statistics from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the spring market began weeks ago! February existing home sales rocketed to an 11.8% increase from the prior month, while economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal had expected […]

The Unreal Estate of Mind

Ruined art. Tricky leases. Gay meccas. Stephanie Barnow of the Swan Team at Keller Williams Compass Realty is your cookie baking girl-next-door realtor with a not so sweet dose of reality for your property woes and wild real estate scenarios. Combined with my zany imagination this makes her the not-so-perfect expert for this week’s grilling.  Kevin Assam: I went to an open house where I accidentally leaned on a Chagall and damaged it. I immediately left. Should I tell the realtor? Stephanie Barnow: My mother said if you make a mistake, own up to it. Your realtor will contact the […]

Does Social Media Prepare You to Buy a Home?

For many years the general public had solid confidence in the idea that real estate – especially owning your own home – was the best investment that an individual or family could make. The housing market crash and resulting Great Recession after 2008 put a dent in that public confidence. I last wrote on this subject in 2015, after a Gallup poll had confirmed that real estate was still considered the most reliable form of long-term investment, but down from past surveys.  The prolonged economic recovery has reassured most home owners that their investment was a wise one, if only […]

Mold: Major Problem or Minor Nuisance?

Just about everyone has heard something about the growing issue of mold in residential structures over the last ten years. There’s a lot of information – and misinformation – going viral on the internet. Here’s a dose of truth: if your house has wood components (studs, flooring, joists, rafters) or drywall, then you already have some level of mold in your house. It doesn’t matter how old the house is, or how well you’ve maintained it. It’s there. Most likely it’s a very insignificant amount, but over the last few years of major rainfall totals and flooding events – and […]

Beware Hidden Recording on the Real Estate Hunt

It’s a pretty good bet, these days, that you have been video recorded for some length of time every time you leave the house. Between store surveillance, police dash cams recording license plates and body cameras, and security cameras of all stripes, someone has been watching just about “every move you make.” And in Maryland, that’s pretty much legal. According to the lawyers at Avvo.com, audio recording is a little more questionable and dangerous. Maryland is a “two-party consent” state. For audio recording to be legal requires the consent of both parties in the conversation, particularly if the conversation takes place in […]

Keep the Ho, Ho, Ho in the Holidays!

As we head into the holiday season each year, we also head into one of the most dangerous for credit fraud and stolen identities. The more you use your credit cards, at malls or online, the more opportunities there are for criminals to hack into computer systems and tarnish some of your holiday cheer. Fortunately, there is a new protection available to all consumers, and I wanted to share a press release from the Federal Trade Commission with news you might want to keep in your files in case you ever need it: Free credit freezes and year-long fraud alerts […]

Homebuying? Consider Creative Financing

Buying a home can help you save money in the long run and creative financing can help you do it if home ownership feels out of reach right now. Did you know that most times when buying a home a 20% down payment isn’t necessary? Or that here in Maryland several thousand dollars are available as a grant that doesn’t need repayment? Here are a few different scenarios. • There are 3% down loans available and you don’t need to be a first-time home buyer to qualify. Let‘s do the math on that, if you purchase a home at about […]