Friday, June 29, 2012

I just sold a cooperative home in GHI. Are you familiar with Co-ops?

Many people are not aware that there are cooperative homes in Maryland. That is because there aren't too many as of this blog. The one above, which I just sold, is located in Prince George's County, specifically Greenbelt, Maryland. Many refer to the community as GHI. It is a nice community with many local amenities, including community pool, houses of worship, a library, shopping center and local business offices. If you commute to work, the GHI community is very near both the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and I-495. There is a train stop not too far away, just off of Kenilworth Ave/Route 201. University of Maryland, College Park is also close by. By the way, even if you do not have a car or your car is in the repair shop, there is currently a public bus that goes through the community. One of the unique aspects of co-ops is that you own a share rather than owning real property. So, currently, if your first "home" is in the GHI (or another local cooperative), you will still be eligible for first time Maryland home buyer benefits if and when the time comes for you to purchase a "real property"---a single family home, townhome or condominium. Condominiums and townhomes are "real properties", so if either one is the first Maryland home you purchased, you are eligible for the first time home buyer benefits at that point in time. Many cooperative communities have strict residential guidelines. Currently, in GHI, an owner must occupy his or her home. When one moves away (and either rents or purchases another home), one currently cannot rent his/her home out and keep it as an investment property. Some people consider it a benefit if most or the entire community is comprised of primary residents. From a mortgage standpoint, there are loan programs which can only be used based on a certain minimum ratio of primary residents to investors. So, one benefit of GHI is that there are many loan programs available to home buyers, although GHI only allows certain lenders to underwrite loans for its community. Another unique aspect of GHI, which I see as particularly advantageous for home buyers is the actual sales process! Home sellers must get a pre home sale inspection through GHI, address all the repair items which GHI comes up and have GHI come back for a second inspection to make sure that all the original inspection items were resolved and that no new inspection items come up. If new issues come up, then the seller must also take care of those issues to the GHI inspector's satisfaction. GHI does not allow a sale to be completed until all the GHI inspection items are corrected. In summary, GHI takes pride in their community and making it a desirable destination for home buyers. In addition the standard home buying process, GHI also requires all buyers to go through their specific home buying counseling , if you will, to make sure buyers understand how the community operates and to get pre-approved for a loan by one of the GHI approved lenders. Buyers also have to be approved by the co-op's board of directors before purchasing their home in GHI (as is the case in other co-op communities). So, the intentions of this blog are to introduce and familiarize you with cooperative homes and to specifically introduce you to GHI, as I just sold a home there. There is a lot to learn about co-ops in general and specifically about GHI. So, I encourage you to read more, ask me questions and let’s get together to discuss the market. I will say that purchasing a co-op, like single family homes, condominiums and townhomes takes a lot of time, diligence and attention to detail. However, there are very unique aspects in the sale of a co-op, which I think a person can only understand up front if he or she has previously purchased a co-op or if he or she is a realtor. Many of us have people we confide in on important matters, like buying a home or buying a car. We want to talk with them about their experiences and things to look out for. The key, with GHI and other cooperative communities, to me, is that these people have firsthand knowledge and experience to draw on. If you or yours is considering moving into a cooperative home, a condominium community, townhome or single family home, it would be my pleasure to get together to discuss the market, your wants and needs and to begin the home sale process. I appreciate and always have time for your referrals. The above information deemed to be accurate but not guaranteed Thank you, Adam Call: (301)943-4370 Adam Bashein Licensed in MD & DC Weichert Realtors (301)718-4100 - ask for adam

Monday, June 25, 2012

Enhancing search criteria to simultaneously create more homes for the buyer and to create more prospects for home sellers!

One of the challenges that realtors, sellers and buyers have is that the Maryland and Washington, DC Multiple listing Service (MLS) does not currently have the option of adding den or office as home criteria. For example, some buyers want homes with 2 bedrooms, where an extra room could be used as another room for a resident, guest or just as an office. However, in some cases, these homes are listed out of their price range and so the buyers have to either make a very low offer or wait for a price reduction, hoping no other buyers can afford/will pay for the home at its current list price. So, they and their agents talk about other possibilities, how to adjust the search and if there are criteria which the buyers can compromise on. Meanwhile, there are owners/sellers who were perhaps, once, in the same situation and bought homes with 1 bedroom + a den or office. They want to reach the buyers who would either cannot or do not want to pay for a 2 bedroom unit. The problem is that the owners'/sellers' homes may not stand out to buyers and their agents as more than being priced significantly higher than other 1 bedroom homes, where the difference in price could not be justified alone by the difference in square footage, because MLS doesn't have a place to automatically add den or office in addition to adding number of bedrooms and bathrooms, for instance. Some agents like myself are aware that such listings will only grab buyers' and agent's attention by making sure to both include a photograph of the den/office in the listing and including in the "general remarks" and "internet remarks" that the home is "X bedrooms plus a den/office." An extra step I take as your buyer agent in finding homes with extra rooms that are not bedrooms is scrolling down the search criteria I created for you and in both the "general remarks" and "listing remarks" add the words den and office, to capture these addition listings to review and for you to consider. Finally, for right now, when I am not finding homes that match your criteria in number of rooms, is adjust the search criteria to number of levels in the home. By doing this, I may come up with homes that are 1 bedroom lofts. This is often a great solution for 2 groups of buyers: (1) The buyer who wants a one bedroom home, but we only come with efficiencies in his/her price range, so at least the loft is a 2nd level, Separate living space; (2) The buyer who wants a two bedroom home/1 bedroom plus den or office and either no such homes are currently coming up in the search or they are coming up in a price range that doesn't work. They say that the 3 most important words in real estate are location, location and location. I would argue that the 3 most important words in real estate, for both home sellers and home buyers are location, language and realtor. The better the location the more buyers for the home, which often drives the demand and price up for that home. Sellers need agents who knows effective language to make all criteria for his/her home to stand out, while buyers need agents who do out of the box home searches to find their homes, including what I call a key word search. Finally sellers need realtors to effectively market their homes through language, syndication, marketing and representation, while buyers need realtors who know how to best represent their interests and find homes that meet their wants and needs. Sellers and buyers need agents who work hard, smart and out of the box to bring sold results. If you know any sellers or buyers who would benefit from my services or from at least this blog, please share! I appreciate you considering me for your real estate needs and referring me to people who need realtors to work for them. Life is good! Adam Call: (301)943-4370 0. (301)718-4100-ask for Adam Adam Bashein Licensed in MD & DC Weichert Realtors I always have time and very much appreciate your kind referrals

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Don't cross the street without looking both ways first: how you should approach buying or selling a home.

The title of this post is inspired by a client. You should look both ways when doing a home search/home sale because of the many aspects in the home buying (and selling) process; (2)specific criteria related to the neighborhood you are buying in (or selling) and what one buys, one often eventually sells. Know the ins and outs of the home sale process before you begin looking or marketing your home for sale. An important but overlooked aspect in buying a home is considering all the implications when it is time to sell. If you are buying a home in an H.O.A., condo or co-op community, understand all the rules and regulations regarding selling or renting your home out when it is time to move. It is hard to consider such things when you are in what I call “the romance of buying”. I am working on a transaction where the sellers have to bring an extra $10k to settlement to make up the difference between the sold price and the mortgage balance. Yes, the sellers are selling their home for less money than it is worth, but they are not doing a short sale. One reason they aren’t doing a short sale is because they are buying a new home and their credit would suffer so much that they probably wouldn’t be able to get a loan for buying a new home without a guarantor. So you may ask why the owners aren’t renting their place out instead of selling it. I do think this is the right market to hold onto a home as a rental when you move just in case a seller cannot net what he or she wants and because the rental market seems to be stronger. The community guidelines say that all owners must be primary residences…this means no investors. Therefore, when it is time to move, one has to sell. A buyer needs to consider this and say this may be ‘the cost of doing business’, if when it is time to sell, he/she cannot sell their home for more than it is worth. Their situation may be different and they could consider doing a short sale. In this particular case, it has been a rather costly few months for the sellers as they just got married…paid for the wedding themselves, buying a new place and are now selling their old home at a $10k + loss. I hope that the sellers also buying at a lower price. It is hard to buy low and sell high, so hopefully the sellers get a good deal on their new home. I was asked whether it is a good idea financially to buy in this neighborhood. I said it would be a bad idea to buy this home if the plan is to move in one or two years, but a sound decision, even though the market is unpredictable, if the plan is to live in the new home for several years since the only option is to live in the home. So, please, if you are buying a home in an H.O.A., condo or co-op community, read the association documents (they may be called by a different name) very carefully to understand all of the rules and regulations of the community. Currently, there is a contingency period in the Maryland and Washington, D.C. sales contract for reviewing the documents. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask your realtor. And, work with a realtor who is a consultant and your advocate. If you or someone you know is thinking of moving, wants to know the ins and outs of the process and aren’t working with a realtor, I would love to talk with you about your plans and how I can make your home dreams come true. Life is good! Adam Call: (301)943-4370 301-718-4100-ask for Adam Adam Bashein Licensed in MD & DC Weichert Realtors