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Chris German

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5/29/2015 Maryland Offers Homeownership Incentives For Veterans And Military Families

On Memorial Day, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and Housing and Community Development Secretary Kenneth Holt jointly announced a $20 million initiative to help veterans and military families intending to purchase a home in any of the state's 86 Sustainable Communities (click the link for a list of qualifying neighborhoods). The "You've Earned It!" initiative provides $10,000 in down payment assistance via a zero-interest deferred loan, plus a 30-year mortgage at a fixed interest rate of 2.75 percent. Home buyers eligible for the initiative are active duty military (including the reserves and National Guard), as well as honorably discharged veterans and veterans with a disability.

Maryland's Sustainable Communities generally are older communities where the state is aiming to revitalize and strengthen investment. There's at least one community in each Maryland County as well as Baltimore City. The list includes multiple neighborhoods in the Washington suburbs in Montgomery and Prince George's Counties.

4/23/2015 Charming Colonial In Rock Creek Forest/Chevy Chase

Bright and charming 3 bedroom, 2 full bath Colonial on a fenced lot in the popular Rock Creek Forest area of Chevy Chase. Features a spacious living room, fireplace, large main floor sun room addition, updated eat in kitchen, fully finished lower level, and hardwood floors under the existing carpet. Located 1/4 mile from Rock Creek Park and just minutes from the District of Columbia. More photos online at

Colston Drive front.

3/27/2015 Rental Home Rigged To Explode

A rental home in Milton, Massachusetts was found to be booby-trapped with an incendiary material, rigged to explode when a particular light switch was flipped on. While inspecting the electrical system Tuesday afternoon, and electrician discovered wiring throughout several rooms of the home that did not conform to code. He traced the source of the wiring to an upstairs bedroom closet, inside which was a plastic gallon container filled with accelerant and wired to a light switch. The owner had brought in the electrician for a required pre-inspection before putting the home up for sale.

Upon the discovery, the owner called police, and the bomb squad was brought in to investigate the device. A perimeter was set up in the neighborhood as a precaution in case the device were to explode before being disarmed.

Authorities are attempting to track down the most recent renters, who moved out just days before the inspection and just one day after filing a complaint that someone had vandalized the home by putting concrete in the home's drains. Additionally, police want to question anyone who may have had access to the house.

Home Rigged

2/5/2015 "But That Website Said My House Was Worth More"

In real estate it's fairly common to work with people who have been misguided, either by accepting advice from the wrong people or relying on data that's just not accurate. Such is the case when a buyer or seller searches online for the value of a home in a particular neighborhood and finds what they believe to be the market price. Just as one should use caution with any other information posted online, it's advisable to take with a grain of salt the home values a website may declare.

Appearing last week on CBS This Morning, Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff was asked about the accuracy of his company site's Zestimates. He replied that the automated property value estimates are "a good starting point" and also acknowledged they have a national "median error rate" of about 8 percent. However, at least two independent analyses by real estate agents have found much higher error rates in their local communities.

In the article citing that agent data, the writer suggests that anyone considering buying or selling a home in today's market should consider Zestimates "as no more than starting points in pricing discussions with the real authorities on local real estate values — experienced agents and appraisers."

The full CBS This Morning piece can be seen by clicking below.

screenshot CBS This Morning

1/22/2015 Downtown Bethesda: Apartments & Retail To Replace Parking Lot

A Northern Virginia developer plans to build a mixed-use apartment building including 248 dwelling units at market-rate, and 62 moderately-priced units, along with over 13,000 square feet of retail space and more than 350 private underground parking spaces.

As reported in the Gazette last week, Aksoylu Properties of Manassas is purchasing a parking lot on Woodmont Avenue. Montgomery County, which operates the lot, agreed to sell on the condition that the developer increase the percentage of the project's apartment units for Moderately Priced Dwelling Units (MPDU) programth. The county-mandated minimum of units required to be set aside for MPDUs is 12.5 percent, and in this deal the developer agreed to reserve 20 percent of the units. The project still must be approved by the County's Planning Department, and even then likely will take a few years to be completed.

Woodmont Parking Lot

12/4/2014 You've Never Viewed A House In This Way!

As a real estate agent I've seen many unique homes over the years. I've also seen innovative ways in marketing real estate. Until today, however, I'd never seen a roller coaster used for making your way around the house. A Dutch company that specializes in real estate marketing decided to build a roller coaster in and around a home to take visitors through!

Roller Coaster in House

Image: screenshot from YouTube video

10/26/2014 Median Home Price Lower Year-Over-Year

Not long ago new home builders saw the low inventory of existing homes on the market as an opportunity to raise their asking prices. The thinking was that with fewer existing homes for potential buyers to choose from as competition, the builders could ask more for the new homes. While they could argue they needed the extra revenue to cover the costs of land, materials, and labor, the price move backfired for many firms. Now with the median sales price down 4% from this time last year, new homes will have to find ways to be more competitive.


10/19/2014 "The top ten flashlight apps...are all malware"

You might want to uninstall a flashlight app if you have one on your smartphone.

Cybersecurity expert Gary Miliefskyn tells Bret Baier that "the top ten flashlight apps...are all malware; they're malicious, they're spying, they're snooping, and they're stealing." Where does your data go? China, India, & Russia.

Cybersecurity FoxNews YouTube

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)

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