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What's Up Magazine

Leading Real Estate Professionals 2015: Q & A

Aug 17, 2015 04:00PM ● By Cate Reynolds

Q. What is your opinion of today’s real estate market within your county/region of operation?

A. The Maryland real estate market is fantastic. My team just had its best month in history,with 151 settlements in a single month. The market remains strong and though interest rates have had a slight rise, they remain low in comparison to past years. Buyers are aggressively seeking homes, creating a high demand for inventory. It’s primetime to list your property if you want to sell.

Creig Northrop, The Creig Northrop Team of Long & Foster

Q. What’s special about buying/selling waterfront property?

A. Waterfront properties are like fine art: no two are identical. This makes it challenging to determine the fair market price, for both buyers and sellers. Sellers need the reassurance that the real estate agent they are interviewing understands all aspects of their property: view, water depth, location relative to the waterfront, as well as the intrinsic value of their home. Buyers must rely on a representative who also understands the 6 elements that play into the probable selling price of a waterfront property. Don’t sell your Picasso at a garage sale – call an expert!

Charlie Buckley, The Mr. Waterfront Team of Long and Foster Real Estate

Q. How do I know which agent is the right fit for me?

A. It’s important to feel that you can connect with your agent on a personal level and feel comfortable voicing your opinion. No matter how smooth an experience you have, buying or selling a home is innately stressful. A proper support team offers a deep understanding of the real estate market, a constant stream of communication, flexibility in scheduling, the ability to adapt to unique circumstances, and versatility to work with clients on a personal and professional level. Grace Ryan recognizes the major financial and emotional commitment that goes into home buying or selling and often pairs two agents to one client to ensure an all-around rewarding experience.

Debbie Greenfield, Grace Ryan Real Estate

Q. What can someone newly moving to the area expect?

A. Someone moving to the Annapolis area can expect to find a diverse community rich in history and culture. We have all the luxuries of a big city with the charm of a small historic port town. The Chesapeake Bay offers some of the best boating in the world and many of the locals spend their free time sailing, fishing and crabbing. New home buyers will find a huge variety of waterfront homes across all price ranges and styles. Welcome to the Annapolis lifestyle.

Travis Gray, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

Q. What is the goal of staging a home?

A. The objective of staging a home is to have potential buyers walk in and immediately envision the house as their own. Besides basic cleaning and de-cluttering, staging a home may include changes to the furniture, color, or lighting. Sometimes small changes create the perfect ambiance but larger changes may be the key to selling a home. When Grace Ryan Real Estate takes on a listing, we do a walk-through and note all of our ideas to make the home show its best. The ultimate goal is to create an environment that is stylish, inviting, and that leaves a lasting impression on the home-buyer.

Staci Foster, Grace Ryan Real Estate

Q. With all the social discussions about the impacts of stress on our health, how does the design of a kitchen impact us?

A. The answer to this question is folded into multiple layers. A kitchen that is functionally well designed lowers stress and frustrations that occur while working in the space, whether alone or with others. A kitchen that is aesthetically pleasing to your personal style, with a place for everything to be put away will bring calm and relaxation to your psyche. Many people are unaware of the impact that cluttered and chaotic environments have on our minds that are already full of distractions...we feel stifled, confused, and ‘can’t breathe.’

Joni Zimmerman, Design Solutions, Inc.

Q. What is the process for homeowners when considering a kitchen remodeling project?

A. Homeowners must consider their time and financial investment for a kitchen or bathroom project. Most homeowners don’t realize that there are many details that can cause a project to exceed its expected time frame and budget. We’ve been remodeling kitchens and bathrooms for more than 40 years and take the entire project from start to finish with our own talented designers and craftsmen. We have free consultations to determine if we are a good fit for each other. Our design and retainer stage may take 3-4 weeks to allow for plan revisions. It may take 8-10 weeks to obtain the materials and another 3-4 weeks to complete the project. So, the whole remodeling process could take about 14-18 weeks.

Scott Waldhauser, Kenwood Kitchens

Q. What is your advice to both buyers and sellers to ensure the swiftest and smoothest settlement day?

A. To ensure the swiftest and smoothest settlement day, it is important for the seller to make sure everything in the house is in working order. If there are repairs to be made, hire a quality professional to do the repairs. That way the work is completed on time and the buyer has a professional they can contact if there are future issues/questions. Be sure to be completely moved out and all personal items and trash removed prior to closing. We see many closing delayed because the sellers are not completely moved out of the home. It is important that the buyers are able to have a final walk-through of the home prior to closing, to ensure everything is as stated in the contract.

For buyers, my advice is to be sure all of your documents are provided to your lender, real estate professional, and title company as soon as possible. Providing documents in a timely manner helps to ensure a smooth transaction and on-time settlement. Don’t make any major purchases (e.g. furniture) or change your credit situation in any way. A late payment or new credit card can affect your loan and possibly your ability to purchase your new home.

Janice Hassell, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Realty

Q. What are the new ways for potential buyers to gain information on a house they’re interested in?

A. In today’s advanced internet world, any information is seconds away on your phone or tablet. An app that I tell all of my clients about is Homesnap. You can snap a picture of a house to find out all about it. It will provide the price of the house, local schools, even the last time it sold. Making home buying that much easier.

Alicia R. Gannon, Exit Latham Realty

Q. What advice would you give home buyers/sellers to ensure the smoothest settlement possible?

A. Communication is key. Responsiveness between you, your Realtor, and your lender is fundamental to ensure the smoothest settlement. It starts by using lending services local to your home purchase, given their relationship to your Realtors, appraisers, and settlement service providers. Stay in touch, stay local, and you’ll be in great hands!

Trey Rider, First Home Mortgage

Q. What is one of a buyer’s biggest concerns when buying waterfront property?

A. One of the most asked questions since hurricane Isabel in 2003, is whether the house has been flooded or is in a flood zone. Anytime you are looking for a house on the Eastern Shore it’s important to ask sellers if they have a flood elevation certificate and what the flood elevation is. If one doesn’t exist the buyers should have a surveyor do a flood elevation to determine what flood zone the property is in. It is information the insurance company will need to determine whether flood insurance is needed and will also determine how much the flood insurance will cost depending on what the elevation is.

Barbara Watkins, Benson & Mangold Real Estate

Q. I keep hearing about the Eastern Shore – What is the Eastern Shore?

A. The name “The Eastern Shore” refers to the peninsula of land extending south from Pennsylvania hosting Delaware, part of Maryland, and part of Virginia. It encloses the Chesapeake Bay on its western shores and is exposed to the Atlantic Ocean to the East, often called the Delmarva Peninsula. Water is all around, and untouched grasslands, forests, farms and crop fields cover the land with a sprinkling of small towns and old estates up the Bay-side coastline. With little industrial development, the centuries-old habitats thrive. The nature is truly wild, yet in a serene and beautiful setting. Tradition, care for the environment, a love of the water and all it encompasses, local art and artists, and the delectable seafood are prideful features of the community.

Jonathan T. Ginn, Long & Foster Real Estate

Q. What special knowledge do you bring to the table when it comes to Waterfront Properties?

A. I bring both personal and professional knowledge! My husband and I have built two waterfront homes on Kent Island and I have sold numerous waterfront properties for others. In the process I’ve dealt with everything from the Army Corp of Engineers, DNR, phragmite (invasive grass) removal, and dock and bulkhead repairs. Living the boating lifestyle myself, I also understand the waterways and special features buyers need or crave.

DeeDee McCracken, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

Q. What are some general rules of thumb for home sellers preparing a property’s interior for sale?

A. Start with the basics: de-clutter, clean and accessorize. Consider hiring a professional to help with the job and to stage the property. Staging is all about maximizing a home’s potential and moving a prospective buyer toward a sale. Good staging allows them to visualize a property as their future home. Buyers often don’t want to purchase a “project,” so show them a home that ismove-in ready. These efforts usually pay off with a faster sale closer to the list price.

Wink Cowee, Benson & Mangold Real Estate

Q. What are the benefits of investing in farm land on the Eastern Shore of Maryland?

A. Investing in farm land, waterfront or inland, can be very beneficial for long term income and appreciation. There are two types of farm leases that are usually used on the Shore, straight rental per acre and share cropping. The going rate is $100-200 per acre for straight rental depending on the location and soil types. Share cropping is usually done on a 60/40 split with the farmer taking 60% and the land owner 40%, but this arrangement varies with different landowners and farm operators. If landowners are not hunters, there is a good income stream generated by hunting leases as well.

Henner Gibbons-Neff, Meredith Fine Properties of Long & Foster

Q. What is the Eastern Shore Lifestyle we hear so much about?

A. Why Maryland’s Eastern Shore Lifestyle? Full Time - Part Time - Any Time. The Upscale Lifestyle of Eastern Shore Living is here when you want it. Because a walk along a shore, a boat ride on the creek, a great sunrise can turn around a bad mood. Because the dogs look forward to running free all week. In the early morning, when the sky lightens to lavender and pink, enjoy your coffee and read your paper - Because there’s no better place to make memories for a child. A place of the heart where family bonds are strengthened and deepened. Because the Eastern Shore is simply, uncomplicated joy. A world where we rediscover our profound love for one another. It’s a sanctuary from everyday life and a return to what we were meant to be. That is what Shore Life or Chesapeake Lifestyle is all about.

Jonathan T. Ginn, Long & Foster Real Estate

Q. Why did YOU choose to live on the Eastern Shore?

A. When asked “If you could live anywhere...where would it be?” many people would fantasize about living on an island, a penthouse in NYC, an isolated cabin in Alaska...all places ideal for cable TV or movie sets. Although those locations are frequently used as romantic getaways or are symbolic for financial freedom...they may not be achievable for most people. The Eastern Shore’s proximity to major metropolitan markets and its natural resources, (public access to water, beaches, parks); not to mention an interesting social and cultural mix; makes the “Shore” a real end-destination. But the biggest reason why I chose the Eastern Shore is the people...and a sense of being connected to a community.

Brian Gearhart, Benson & Mangold Real Estate

Q. Do you specialize in only one price range?

A. No! The well rounded Realtor is proud to sell properties in any price range. While I do specialize in Kent Island, Queen Anne’s County and Waterfront Properties – I love selling smaller homes and town homes just as much as the multi-million dollar estates! My experience and professional system work well for all of them. I love the variety and continual challenge of new and different properties.

DeeDee McCracken, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

Q. What myths can you dispel about today’s lending environment?

A. Down payment requirements are much more borrower friendly than portrayed. On the Eastern Shore, we have loan programs that support 100 percent financing. Mortgage insurance is much more consumer friendly today, too. Your credit history doesn’t have to be perfect. Sure, we’ve tightened, but there is still an encouraging environment to achieve financing for your next home purchase.

Trey Rider, First Home Mortgage