Holidays Don’t Need to be Bank-Breaking

For many of us, autumn is filled with outdoor activities, spending time with extended family, and the start of an expensive holiday season. Before you hit the mall on Black Friday or make your online purchases on Cyber Monday, consider these tips for getting the most out of your holidays while minimizing your expenses. 1) Setting a budget – Before the holidays begin, consider creating a list of everyone for whom you would like to buy a gift and then assign a dollar amount as a target for each person. Make sure that the total value of all of those […]

Millennials and Online Fraud

For many years now, pre-millennial Americans such as myself have been hearing how computer savvy the members of the millennial generation are, how they have grown up with a mouse or a smart phone in their mitts, and what an advantage this gives them in the world that is rapidly evolving into existence. Well, maybe not. According to consumer complaint data recently released by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), millennials are 25% more likely to complain to authorities that they have lost money to fraud than consumers aged 40 and over. “The FTC’s latest Consumer Protection Data Spotlight shows that […]

Low Mortgage Rates May Spike Home Prices in 2020

If you’re one of the home buyers on the fence, thinking that you’d wait until the market starts to move sideways or even start heading downward, you might want to have another look at that strategy. A new report from CoreLogic says that annual growth in home prices will increase by an average of 5.4% before July of 2020. This represents a significant change in a market where price appreciation has been spotty and sluggish. What might cause this change? Low interest rates. In early June, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller index for home prices, one of the most widely quoted […]

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 […]