The Friday Five

Happy Friday everyone and welcome to my new weekly post “The Friday Five”. Each week I’ll be highlighting five articles from the news about real estate and our local community. Check back weekly to see what’s going on!

Mortgages can be confusing, especially to the first time homebuyer. Daniel Bortz, a DMV realtor, answers the 5 Most Common Questions About Mortgages. He even covers the tough stuff like why your interest rate is higher than you thought it’d be and what to do if you can’t make a mortgage payment.

Think spring is the hottest time for real estate? Think again. Read Summer Could Be Hottest Time for Real Estate Sales in More Ways Than One for details on this buyers market that shows no signs of slowing down. If you have a family and are thinking of buying or selling a home then act now so everything is in place by the start of the school year.

Dave Ramsey, financial guru, highlights 4 Insider Tips to Sell Your Home on a Tight Timeline. He discusses the power behind staging, stellar photography, and more. I’m happy to report that these are all techniques that I take very seriously as an agent.

Calvert County is abundant with local farms and farm stands so take some time to show them support by Taking the Pledge to Eat Local Every Day During Buy Local Agriculture Week. From temporary farmers markets to a list of local roadside stands this article is your guide to eating local.

Check out here and here for a list of upcoming Southern Maryland events, live music, and more. Highlighted this week is Sharkfest at Calvert Marine Museum and wine tasting at Ruddy Duck Brewery!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Restaurant Week in Calvert County

Restaurant Week 2016
A Tour to Treat
the Taste Buds

It’s time to get hungry. Calvert County Restaurant Week is back for 2016. This local favorite, now in its fourth year, gives diners the opportunity to sample the county’s unique culinary contributions. www.choosecalvert.com

 

This year’s Restaurant Week is Feb. 19-28 and includes great food from Chesapeake Beach to Solomons and everywhere in between. Maryland is also celebrating FeBREWary in honor of local craft beers and many restaurants will showcase brews from Calvert County’s four breweries.

Restaurant Week patrons can enter a drawing for prizes by completing an online feedback form or filling out feedback cards at restaurants during their visit. A special section on the Calvert County tourism website features full event details including a list of participating restaurants, menus, frequently asked questions and more. Let’s eat!

What to do in Calvert County

Outing Ideas to
Beat the Chill

Keep warm this winter in Calvert County, where you can have a great time in the great indoors.

Close your eyes and imagine you are in the Caribbean as you float in the heated pools at the Edward T. Hall Aquatic Center. Relax in a hot tub, dive into the balmy blue and let the kids loose on all the play features. Check out the fitness room or book an event in the party room. Float on.

Take a strike at winter woes at Lord Calvert Bowling Center, where features like the full-service grill, sports bar and video entertainment area mean full-on family fun. Check out the theatrical light and music show every Friday and Saturday night.

The brew is cold but the welcome is warm at Calvert County’s four breweries: Scorpion Brewery, Mully’s Brewery, Calvert Brewing Company, and Ruddy Duck Brewery and Grill . Sample award-winning beers that emphasize quality and flavor through the use of local ingredients. Take a tour, sample some suds and salute the season.

Wine warms the soul, and the Patuxent Wine Trail is the perfect tour for oenophiles. The trail’s five wineries – Cove Point Winery, Fridays Creek Winery, Perigeaux Vineyards & Winery, Running Hare Vineyard, and Solomons Island Winery – offer a wide variety of wines that can be sampled in their tasting rooms. Put a cork in the winter blues.

Bring home sunny memories after a trip along the Patuxent Arts Trail. From Realism to Impressionism to abstract art, the seven galleries along the trail offer acclaimed works that take inspiration from the region’s natural beauty. Amble from the scenic bayside town of North Beach to Solomons Island and revel in the local aesthetic.

Bask in the glow of the creative process when Annmarie Sculpture Garden and & Arts Center transforms its main gallery Jan. 14 through March 2 into open artist studios. Watch artists at work as they demonstrate their techniques and peruse finished works for sale. You can even experiment with the artists’ materials or possibly help create a collaborative work.

Calvert County Holiday Events

Calendar of Events

Thursday-Saturday,
Dec. 3-5
Solomons Christmas Walk, Gala and Lighted Boat Parade
Throughout Solomons

Thursday, Dec. 3
(6:30-8 p.m.)
Friday, Dec.4
(10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.)
Holiday Wreath Making Workshop
American Chestnut Land Trust

Friday-Sunday, Dec. 4-6
Thursday-Sunday, Dec. 10-13
Wednesday-Wednesday,
Dec. 16-23
Saturday-Thursday,
Dec. 26-31
Annmarie Garden in Lights
6-9 p.m.
Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center

Now through Saturday,
Jan. 2
The 8th Annual Ornament Show & Sale
Open most days and late on Garden In Lights evenings
Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center

Saturday-Sunday, Dec. 5-6
Antique Christmas Festival
10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Various antique shops throughout Calvert County

Saturday, Dec. 5
Holiday Wreath Making Workshop
10-11:30 a.m. and 12:30-
2 p.m.
Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum

Saturday, Dec. 5
Annual Greens Sale
11 a.m.-2 p.m.
American Chestnut Land Trust

Monday, Dec. 7, 14
Memories House and Garden Tours
10-11 a.m.
Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum

Friday, Dec. 11
The Gift Holiday Concert
7:30 p.m.
All Saints Church, Sunderland

Saturday, Dec.12
Holiday Craft Fair
9 a.m.-2 p.m.
Northern High School

Sunday, Dec. 13
Sunday Afternoon with the Pattersons Tour
2-3:30 p.m.
Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum

Friday, Dec. 18
The Maritime Performance Series present: EVA performing the Turning of the Year
7-9 p.m.
Calvert Marine Museum

Friday, Dec. 18
Dramatic Reading of The Polar Express
5:30-7:30 p.m.
Chesapeake Beach Railway Museum

Sunday, Dec. 20
14th Annual Solomons Tuba Christmas Concert
4-5 p.m.
Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church

Friday, Jan. 1
Polar Bear Plunge
1 p.m.
Waterfront
The Town of North Beach

Christmas Time in Calvert County

A Holiday to Remember
Celebrate the Season in Style

Solomons Boats Christmas Cheer the holidays with bayside flair in Calvert County. Watch a glimmering lighted boat parade and visit quaint shops in the historic riverside town of Solomons. See a Christmas tree made from crab pots in Chesapeake Beach. Wander a wooded path filled with a dazzling display of unique light sculptures at Annmarie Sculpture Garden.

Enjoy a traditional holiday parade in North Beach. Plan now and make treasured holiday memories.

While you are here, brighten the season for those you cherish with distinctive gifts inspired by the laid-back bay lifestyle.

Local museum gift shops are a great source for unique items including science kits, stuffed animals, art supplies, books, jewelry and more. How about a museum membership? It’s the gift that keeps giving with free or reduced-cost admission for special programs throughout the year.

For wine lovers, consider a gift certificate for a wine tasting, a bottle of wine or a tour of one of five wineries on the Patuxent Wine Trail. Calvert County’s burgeoning breweries offer beer connoisseurs tastings, tours and even growler-of-the-month clubs.

Give the gift of art. Visit a gallery or artisan along the Patuxent Arts Trail. Choose from award-winning work influenced by the region’s natural beauty or give a budding artist inspiration through classes or lessons.

Treat someone to Calvert County’s supreme cuisine with a gift card to a local restaurant. From seafood to sushi, there are choices for every palate.

For salty sailors or water lovers, think ahead to spring and charter a boat for fishing or a day of fun with the family. Give great experiences with rich history and heritage on a watermen’s tour or the serenity of sailing on sparkling waters.

There’s nothing better than a weekend getaway on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay. From waterfront hotels and bed and breakfasts to vacation cottages or even a lighthouse, Calvert County offers truly unique destinations. Treat yourself to a stay. You deserve it after all that shopping.

Real Estate in Maryland Fall 2015

While no one anticipates a return to the frenzied housing market of the pre-recession days or even the hectic pace in 2013 when low inventory and low mortgage rates pushed some buyers into bidding wars, the fall market in Maryland is on track to continue a strong trajectory for the year.

Pent-up demand this fall is likely to come from several sources, says Jonathan Hill, vice president of marketing and communications for Rockville-based multiple listing service MRIS.

“Uncertainty over rising interest rates is goading some people into taking action now to buy a home,” Hill says. “We also expect an increase in boomerang buyers — those who have cleaned up their credit after a foreclosure or bankruptcy seven or eight years ago. Millennials are coming into the market, too, particularly now that there are more low down payment loan programs.”

Hill says 12.8 percent more homes were sold in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in 2015 between January and August than in that same period in 2014. In addition, the median sales price rose by 1.6 percent in Maryland year over year.

[Why the D.C. area has a resilient housing market]

“Inventory is still way below the peak, with about 3.3 months of supply of homes, but the number of homes on the market in Maryland is almost 10 percent higher this August than last August,” Hill says.

While rising inventory sounds like it could ease competition for buyers this fall, many house hunters are still having trouble finding a house that meets their needs and fits their price range and their preferred location.

However, the “average days on the market” statistic, which provides an indication of how long it takes a house to sell, rose 10.4 percent to 53 days in Maryland so far this year, which means that some houses are taking longer to sell than in the past.

“I anticipate the fall market to be generally slower this year than last, and we’re already seeing it in the increasing number of days that it takes to sell a home,” says Nela Richardson, chief economist for Redfin in Washington.

The 1,282-square-foot condo at the Elizabeth, 4601 Park Ave. N., No. 1614, Chevy Chase, Md., is listed at $569,000. (By HomeVisit)
In spite of the regionally slower pace of sales and potential stagnation in prices, Richardson says there are many areas and price ranges that will continue to experience high demand.

New regional hot spot: Prince George’s County
Richardson calls Prince George’s County “the last affordable area around the Beltway” and says prices continue to rise there because of increasing demand from buyers from other parts of Maryland and from buyers moving across the river from Alexandria into Upper Marlboro and Bowie.

Tips after you Purchase a Home

Are you in the market for a new house? Whether you are looking for a first home or you are changing homes, make sure you take a moment to assess what needs to be changed in your new residence. Use this list as a reference for things you should do when you buy a new house.

Walk Through the House
You’ve just bought a new house – did the previous owner leave things behind? Did anything break during the move? Walk through the property and see what needs to be fixed, replaced or can be removed. This is also a good time to see if anything was left from the move. Be sure to check any outdoor areas as well, as garden pots, hoses, outdoor furniture and even trampolines can get left behind.

Change All the Locks This should be a top priority. You might have received a few keys at closing, but who knows how many duplicate keys to your new home are out there. Change all locks on doors that have outside access. This is also a great time to reprogram any garage door openers/remotes/keypads as these things are often overlooked by new owners.

Change Your Address
It’s highly likely you’ll receive mail for the previous owner. Be sure to update your address with the Post Office, your employer, credit card companies, investment companies, all utility companies, and any other company or service you receive mail from. If you do receive mail for the previous owner, write “No Longer at This Address” on the envelope and place it back in the mailbox.

Change Batteries in Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
These things save lives, and there’s no guarantee that the previous owner practiced good upkeep on these vital parts of your home. Replace all the batteries in the detectors, and make sure to run a test on each detector to make sure it’s in working order. If the house is older, you might want to consider replacing the detectors for more current and up-to-date models. This is also a good time to locate any fire extinguishers in the house, or make a plan on where to place fire extinguishers. Check that the extinguishers are still charged and in working order.

Learn and Label Fuse/Panel Box Circuit breaker box
You’ve purchased a home – it’s important you understand how it runs! The electrical panel handles all the electricity in your house, and it’s important to know where it’s located in the home and which outlet each circuit goes to. Sometimes the previous owner has already done this for you, but if not, you can do it manually by turning off one breaker at a time and checking which room or rooms have gone dark. It’s also important to locate the main disconnect, which handles all the power to the house and is used in emergency situations.

Put Flashlights in Every Room
No one anticipates the power going out, but it’s best to be ready if it happens. You can buy flashlights are your local hardware or big box store. LED flashlights will last for a long time, and they provide a large amount of light compared to their size. Be sure you have spare batteries, and make sure you have a flashlight in the high traffic areas of your home: kitchen, bedrooms, main bathroom and garage. Flashlights are not only useful when the power is out, but they also come in handy for basic improvement projects and when you need extra light.

Heating Pipes Learn Where the Main Water and Gas Shutoffs Are
You have a water leak or a gas leak – do you know how to turn off the water or the gas into the house? Locating the main water and gas shut offs before an emergency will save you time and could possibly save your life. It’s just general good homeowner practice to know where these important fixtures are. The main water shutoff should be located near the water meter, which is either located outside in a warmer climate area and inside in a cooler climate area. If you have natural gas in your home, the main shutoff valve will be located just before the gas meter.

Find The Sewer/Water Lines and Septic Tank
As a homeowner, you’ll likely (at some point) want to do updates to your home. These updates can also include construction in the yard. It’s important to know where your home’s sewer and water lines/pipes are in the yard so you avoid hitting them during any demolition – most of the time, if you hit one on your property, you’re responsible for fixing it, not the utility company. If your new home is on a septic system, it’s incredibly important to know where the septic tank is located and where any septic lines are in the yard.

Clean All Major Appliances
Unless you’re purchasing brand new appliances for your home, it’s a smart decision to clean all of the major appliances in your new home. These include: oven, refrigerator/freezer, washing machine, dishwasher, and any other large appliances. A fresh clean not only gets rid of any germs and bacteria, but it also makes your new home fresh and ready for you and your family. Another important thing to replace: toilet seats. We’ve all used public restrooms before, but your home is not a public restroom. Get new toilet seats from your local hardware store. But if you’re okay with the ones you inherited, make sure you give them a good deep clean!

Whats New in Calvert County

Edward T. Hall Aquatic Center Reopens

The Edward T. Hall Aquatic Center in Prince Frederick has reopened after being closed for eight weeks for warranty repairs to the competition pool. The center offers various classes to Calvert County residents of all ages. Register for classes or get a seasonal pass online.

Builder’s Warranty to Purchaser

What is a Structural Warranty?
August 24, 2015
By 2-10 Home Buyers Warranty

A structural warranty provides a written agreement between the home builder and the homeowner and clearly defines the builder’s work-product obligations related to construction quality and continuing obligations. Under the agreement, the builder is the insured and the homeowner is the beneficiary. Warranty insurance is different from liability insurance. In a typical structural warranty agreement, the home builder warrants that a new home will be free from qualified structural defects for 10 years. Additional coverage is available for workmanship and systems. For homes that require a HUD -approved warranty, the builder may purchase a structural warranty from a HUD-approved Plan issuer. A Plan issuer may be a state, warranty company, risk-retention group, HUD-approved builder, an insurance company or any other HUD-approved entity with the required insurance backing.

Read The Definitive Guide to Structural Warranties from 2-10 Home Buyers Warranty®, offering you a deeper look at what a structural warranty is, the benefits of using them and so much more.

Why You Should Use a Realtor

Why It’s a Smart Move to Use a Real Estate Agent

Buying or selling a home seems to be a way of life for a lot of people in today’s world. When you buy, you definitely want to get the most for your money. Many people think they can go it alone when it comes to buying or selling a house, and it’s definitely true that some people are able to handle all the details of buying and selling a home or property, but in reality the real estate process is intricate and requires a lot of knowledge about the local real estate market, contracts, escrow, appraisals and referrals. While some home owners and buyers are in a position to go it alone, for those intimidated by the market or those who don’t have the time or energy to sell or buy a home on their own, here are some reasons why it’s a smart move to use a real estate agent during your next real estate transaction.

Local Expertise

You’ve lived in an area for some time – but while you may know about local amenities and activities, do you have a lot of knowledge on the local real estate market? Real estate agents know their markets: they know how much homes are selling for, they know what areas are highly desirable and they know which ones are up-and-coming. You can trust an agent to know the local inventory and know how to get the best price for a home or property.
Access

Real estate agents have a number of access points that a regular buyer or seller doesn’t. They have access to listings before they are put in the MLS, and they have access to the homes! Many sellers are only willing to grant access to agents, which means that most buyers going it alone can only access homes during open houses. An agent working for the seller is only going to provide information with the seller’s best interest at heart, so when you go it alone you might be only getting partial information from any questions you may have. Working with an agent will help provide private access to homes, and an agent will be able to get more information from the seller’s agent.
Experience

Buying a home is an intimidating experience – you’re making one of the biggest financial decisions of your life. As a buyer, you want to make sure stress and emotions don’t get the better of you, especially when it comes to making important decisions. Real estate agents know what buyers and sellers go through – they’ve been there, as it’s more than likely they too have made a real estate purchase of their own. While they have personal experience, they also have an experienced rational eye when it comes to the business portion of a real estate transaction. They possess clear judgement, and agents are a seller and buyer’s biggest advocate for a successful negotiation. Real estate agents have the experience, knowledge and acumen to make the process as smooth and stress-free as possible.
Connections

The real estate transaction process requires a number of professionals and services. From a lender, home inspector, contractors and handymen for repairs, lawyers, and a number of other professionals and tradesmen, knowing the right people is beyond important when you want to have a smooth and successful transaction. Real estate agents are in the business, and their past experience has provided them with a number of respectable and dependable contacts and referrals than you’ll find asking friends and family. A ready agent will come prepared with connections and people they are willing to refer because they’ve worked with them in the past and they know their track record. When you choose to work without an agent, you sacrifice the networking that naturally comes with being a real estate agent.
No Cost When Buying

If you’re searching for a home or property to buy, having an agent is free. An agent’s commission is paid by the seller, but most buyers don’t realize this and entertain the idea of going without a Realtor during their home search. If a seller pays the commission, there is no loss to a buyer to take full advantage of all the services a real estate agent offers. It’s also important to understand that even if you choose to go it alone when buying a home, you do not receive the commission a buyer’s agent would. Commission rates are negotiated before the final sale and are included in the contract, meaning if you don’t use a buyer’s agent, the entire commission is paid to the listing agent.
Documents and Paperwork

Unless you’re working with a brand new agent, most agents know the ins and outs of all the documents and paperwork required for a home sale or purchase because they’ve been through a number of transactions. From finding the comps of your market and drafting a purchase agreement, to contacting any other agents and the title company, a real estate agent will be able to provide help in the forms of knowledge, time and resources during the real estate transaction process. Agents also know the important parts of an offer or contract, especially when it comes to line items that could cost a lot in the end or things that are negotiable. Having an agent that knows the process, the paperwork and the documentation is a valuable asset when it comes to making one of the biggest decisions of your life.