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Chris German

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8/31/2014 Builders Find Greater Opportunity In Renting

Real estate attorney and author Shari Olefson recently appeared on CNBC to discuss the various factors contributing to home ownership becoming less affordable for more and more Americans. She correctly pointed out there's more than rising house prices keeping people from otherwise purchasing a home. Rents also are up, which makes saving for a down payment that much more difficult. Additionally, while new housing building permits are up over last year, the largest segment of those are for multi-family units (apartments), which indicates the builders see more opportunity in that niche than in single-family properties.

The National Association of REALTORS® has pointed out that home ownership strengthens the nation's economy, and for every two homes sold a job is created. Further, U.S. Census Bureau data shows owners move less frequently than renters, therefore contributing the stability in the local community.

8/20/2014 New Condos Coming To Nationals Park

Two blocks from Nationals Park, a 14,000-square-foot parcel of land currently holds the Metro's chiller plant, which cools the air before it reaches the stations at the Navy Yard and Waterfront. Now Metro has announced a proposed development deal that would build 126 residential condominiums along with 6,000-square-feet of retail space. The plans would incorporate the chiller plant into the new building. This second residential for-sale real estate project follows on the heels of a proposal for 130 residential units at The Yards.

Navy Yard

(PHOTO: Chris German)

8/13/2014 Wal-Mart Backs Out Of Aspen Hill

Whether it was local residents' opposition, bureaucratic red tape, or some other cause, Wal-Mart has withdrawn its plans to build a 118,000 square foot supercenter on the site of the former BAE/Vitro office building in Aspen Hill. The Lee Development Group said Tuesday that Wal-Mart representatives cited "the uncertain length of the county's planning and regulatory processes." While some local business leaders expressed disappointment with the continued vacancy of the bulding, many area residents, who had formed a coaltion opposing Wal-Mart's plans, didn't want the inevitable increase in traffic at an already congested intersection.

More from WTOP.

 

7/24/2014 Residential Burglaries Highest In Summer

Last month the Bureau of Justice Statistics published a report that shows burglary is 11% more common in summer than winter months. While the trends in the mid-1970s indicated burglary was 23% more likely in summer, and the June 2014 report examining statistics from 1993-2010 show a drop to 11%, that still is the greatest seasonal variation of any type of crime.

Typically referred to as a crime of opportunity, burglary may be more common in summer for a number of reasons Obviously countless more people will take vacations during the summer (newspapers or mail piling up sends a clear signal that no one's home). Additionally, securing windows and doors tends to be overlooked by more people in these months.

Protect yourself with some of these tips:

1. Make your home a more difficult target with an alarm system, with a yard sign and window stickers showing that an alarm system is installed and active. Call me and I'll be happy to recommend an alarm installation/monitoring company.

2. Suspend delivery of your newspaper and mail (or have a trusted friend or neighbor collect them for you).

3. Connect at least one lamp or other interior light on a timer so a light will come on nightly for a period of time while you're away.

4. Similarly, exterior lighting on a motion detector also can be a great deterrent.

5. Consider high-tech options like installing a security camera (or multiple) or using a mobile security app for your smartphone to alert you if someone approaches your doorways while you're not home.

If you've found this information helpful, feel free to share this article with the people you care about.

Burglar Image courtesy of chanpipat / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

(Image courtesy of chanpipat / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

7/23/2014 Drones & Real Estate Photography

Typically the first sign that your neighbors are selling their home is when you notice the for sale panel go up in the yard. More recently, however, you may suspect one of your neighbors is about to sell if you spot an aerial drone briefly hovering over your community. Some real estate agents have begun using drones to take aerial photographs of the seller's home and surrounding areas, including nearby parks, playgrounds, lakes, golf courses, and shopping centers. Just last month the Federal Aviation Administration warned that agents using drones to take photographs for clients would not qualify as a hobby or recreational use of the flying objects, and therefore are considered "subject to all existing FAA regulations." While the FAA may be permitted to take action against commercial drone operators, it remains in dispute if it may levy any fines against them.

Inman News followed that announcement with a poll of their readers, and fewer than 25% of the respondents believe the FAA will strictly enforce the ruling, at least in the immediate future.

Since the FAA also stated that it may modify it's interpretation of "hobby or recreation" based on public comments, what are your thoughts about the use of drones by real estate agents to take photographs for home sellers? Does it make a difference if the drone is used only in the airspace above the real estate property being sold?

 

Drone - Don McCullough

(PHOTO: flickr/Don McCullough - Creative Commons license)

 

6/29/2014 Housing Recovery Faltering Due To Low Wages

According to this article from Bloomberg, real estate sales in the United States are lower than previously expected, due in part to a lack of higher paying jobs. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Mortgage Bankers Association all had high hopes for a continued housing recovery, yet the MBA adjusted downward by 4.1 percent its earlier forecast of new and existing home sales this year.

Not everyone was bullish on the real estate recovery, however. Some economists, as quoted in the linked article, forecast that rising home prices and the combination of high unemployment and stagnant wages would shrink the pool of eligible home buyers. The US median household income fell from $55,484 in 2008 to $51,371 in 2012, a drop of more than 7 percent. So household income is lower than it was during the recession, making it that much more difficult to buy a home.

While all the data above indicate a slowing in the housing recovery, homes will continue to sell. However, sellers may have to face the reality that they'll be competing with more and more of their neighbors as homes take longer to sell unless priced properly.  Make sure you or your friends are the ones with the "SOLD" sign in the yard. Contact me for the best guidance on selling your home in today's real estate market.

(Stock Photo)

6/18/2014 5 Credit Tips For Homebuyers

It should come as no surprise that one's credit history is an extremely important factor when buying a home. However, what seems to be lesser known is why good credit is essential, and how consumers can raise their credit score.

Naturally lenders want to have a certain level of confidence that the money they loan a homebuyer will be paid back, so a careful examination of the buyer's credit is a prerequisite to obtaining financing. Consumers who have paid their debts (e.g., student loans, credit card bills) on time tend to have higher credit scores and therefore represent a lower risk to the financial institution making the mortgage loan. This impacts the interest rate, even the type of loan you may qualify for and the amount of downpayment necessary. The bottom line is that the higher your credit score the more options you'll have when it comes to obtaining a mortgage, and the lower interest rate can save you thousands of dollars over the life of the loan. As an added bonus, in the eyes of a home seller, buyers with better credit stand above any competing buyers with average or mediocre credit.

If you're even in the early stages of thinking about buying a home, the first step is to analyze your spending habits. Are you making the minimum payment on your credit cards, or paying them off each month? Second, know how your spending impacts your score. A high credit limit won't help your score if the amount you owe also is high. Third, educate yourself on these personal financial matters well before you start house-hunting. Meet with a reputable loan officer so you'll know exactly what kind of budget you're working with. Fourth, fix any errors on your credit report and start paying down your debt as necessary to boost your score. Lastly, once you have a home under contract and your loan is approved, do not change anything! Lenders will run a final credit check a day or two before settlement, and your loan can be in jeopardy if you've either opened a new account (like a store credit card), closed an existing account, or made any big-ticket purchases that increase your debt.

If you are considering buying a home, call me so I can put you in touch with a reputable lender.

(Stock Photo)

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