Fair Housing … it’s the law, not a prescription for home buying hide and seek.

Fair Housing Act
Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (Fair Housing Act), as amended, prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of dwellings, and in other housing-related transactions, based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status (including children under the age of 18 living with parents or legal custodians, pregnant women, and people securing custody of children under the age of 18), and disability.

HUD has played a lead role in administering the Fair Housing Act since its adoption in 1968. The 1988 amendments, however, have greatly increased the Department’s enforcement role. First, the newly protected classes have proven significant sources of new complaints. Second, HUD’s expanded enforcement role took the Department beyond investigation and conciliation into the area of mandatory enforcement.

Complaints filed with HUD are investigated by the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO). If the complaint is not successfully conciliated, FHEO determines whether reasonable cause exists to believe that a discriminatory housing practice has occurred. Where reasonable cause is found , the parties to the complaint are notified by HUD’s issuance of a Determination, as well as a Charge of Discrimination, and a hearing is scheduled before a HUD administrative law judge. Either party – complainant or respondent – may cause the HUD-scheduled administrative proceeding to be terminated by electing instead to have the matter litigated in Federal court. Whenever a party has so elected, the Department of Justice takes over HUD’s role as counsel seeking resolution of the charge on behalf of aggrieved persons, and the matter proceeds as a civil action. Either form of action – the ALJ proceeding or the civil action in Federal court – is subject to review in the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Significant Recent Changes

  1. The Housing for Older Persons Act of 1995 (HOPA) makes several changes to the 55 and older exemption. Since the 1988 Amendments, the Fair Housing Act has exempted from its familial status provisions properties that satisfy the Act’s 55 and older housing condition.First, it eliminates the requirement that 55 and older housing have significant facilities and services designed for the elderly. Second, HOPA establishes a good faith reliance immunity from damages for persons who in good faith believe that the 55 and older exemption applies to a particular property, if they do not actually know that the property is not eligible for the exemption and if the property has formally stated in writing that it qualifies for the exemption.
    HOPA retains the requirement that senior housing must have one person who is 55 years of age or older living in at least 80 percent of its occupied units. It also still requires that senior housing publish and follow policies and procedures that demonstrate an intent to be housing for persons 55 and older.

    An exempt property will not violate the Fair Housing Act if it includes families with children, but it does not have to do so. Of course, the property must meet the Act’s requirements that at least 80 percent of its occupied units have at least one occupant who is 55 or older, and that it publish and follow policies and procedures that demonstrate an intent to be 55 and older housing.

    A Department of Housing and Urban Development rule published in the April 2, 1999, Federal Register implements the Housing for Older Persons Act of 1995, and explains in detail those provisions of the Fair Housing Act that pertain to senior housing.

  2. Changes were made to enhance law enforcement, including making amendments to criminal penalties in section 901 of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 for violating the Fair Housing Act.
  3. Changes were made to provide incentives for self-testing by lenders for discrimination under the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. See Title II, subtitle D of the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act, 1997, P.L. 104 – 208 (9/30/96).

What Housing Is Covered?

The Fair Housing Act covers most housing. In some circumstances, the Act exempts owner-occupied buildings with no more than four units, single-family housing sold or rented without the use of a broker, and housing operated by organizations and private clubs that limit occupancy to members.

What Is Prohibited?

In the Sale and Rental of Housing: No one may take any of the following actions based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicap:

  • Refuse to rent or sell housing
  • Refuse to negotiate for housing
  • Make housing unavailable
  • Deny a dwelling
  • Set different terms, conditions or privileges for sale or rental of a dwelling
  • Provide different housing services or facilities
  • Falsely deny that housing is available for inspection, sale, or rental
  • For profit, persuade owners to sell or rent (blockbusting) or
  • Deny anyone access to or membership in a facility or service (such as a multiple listing service) related to the sale or rental of housing.

In Mortgage Lending: No one may take any of the following actions based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicap (disability):

  • Refuse to make a mortgage loan
  • Refuse to provide information regarding loans
  • Impose different terms or conditions on a loan, such as different interest rates, points, or fees
  • Discriminate in appraising property
  • Refuse to purchase a loan or
  • Set different terms or conditions for purchasing a loan.

In Addition: It is illegal for anyone to:

  • Threaten, coerce, intimidate or interfere with anyone exercising a fair housing right or assisting others who exercise that right
  • Advertise or make any statement that indicates a limitation or preference based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or handicap. This prohibition against discriminatory advertising applies to single-family and owner-occupied housing that is otherwise exempt from the Fair Housing Act.

Additional Protection if You Have a Disability

If you or someone associated with you:

  • Have a physical or mental disability (including hearing, mobility and visual impairments, chronic alcoholism, chronic mental illness, AIDS, AIDS Related Complex and mental retardation) that substantially limits one or more major life activities
  • Have a record of such a disability or
  • Are regarded as having such a disability

your landlord may not:

  • Refuse to let you make reasonable modifications to your dwelling or common use areas, at your expense, if necessary for the disabled person to use the housing. (Where reasonable, the landlord may permit changes only if you agree to restore the property to its original condition when you move.)
  • Refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices or services if necessary for the disabled person to use the housing.

Example: A building with a no pets policy must allow a visually impaired tenant to keep a guide dog.

Example: An apartment complex that offers tenants ample, unassigned parking must honor a request from a mobility-impaired tenant for a reserved space near her apartment if necessary to assure that she can have access to her apartment.

However, housing need not be made available to a person who is a direct threat to the health or safety of others or who currently uses illegal drugs.

Requirements for New Buildings

In buildings that are ready for first occupancy after March 13, 1991, and have an elevator and four or more units:

  • Public and common areas must be accessible to persons with disabilities
  • Doors and hallways must be wide enough for wheelchairs
  • All units must have:
    • An accessible route into and through the unit
    • Accessible light switches, electrical outlets, thermostats and other environmental controls
    • Reinforced bathroom walls to allow later installation of grab bars and
    • Kitchens and bathrooms that can be used by people in wheelchairs.

If a building with four or more units has no elevator and will be ready for first occupancy after March 13, 1991, these standards apply to ground floor units.

These requirements for new buildings do not replace any more stringent standards in State or local law.

Housing Opportunities for Families

Unless a building or community qualifies as housing for older persons, it may not discriminate based on familial status. That is, it may not discriminate against families in which one or more children under 18 live with:

  • A parent
  • A person who has legal custody of the child or children or
  • The designee of the parent or legal custodian, with the parent or custodian’s written permission.

Familial status protection also applies to pregnant women and anyone securing legal custody of a child under 18.

Exemption: Housing for older persons is exempt from the prohibition against familial status discrimination if:

  • The HUD Secretary has determined that it is specifically designed for and occupied by elderly persons under a Federal, State or local government program or
  • It is occupied solely by persons who are 62 or older or
  • It houses at least one person who is 55 or older in at least 80 percent of the occupied units, and adheres to a policy that demonstrates an intent to house persons who are 55 or older.

A transition period permits residents on or before September 13, 1988, to continue living in the housing, regardless of their age, without interfering with the exemption.

This law is in place to guarantee that you can buy where you want to buy. It in no way suggests that the features of any home or neighborhood can dictate your ability to purchase.

DC and Md Home Selling

Before gathering information about selling  property, you have to identify (or label) what type of  seller you are. One size does not fit all.  Just because you are considering selling property, you can not be lumped in with every type of seller. The information you need has to be relevant to you and your situation.

Sellers fall into several categories.

Sell and purchase another home –  If you currently own property and plan to sell and purchase another home, your needs are specific. You are entering what may seem like a foreign country.  The language used does have it roots in English, but the terminology does not always mean what it appears to mean.  In the real estate world, there is a big difference between buyers and sellers.  A person selling one home and purchasing another  needs a guide to assist them in getting both transactions coordinated and completed smoothly.  If you are planning on selling one home and purchasing another, you first have to determine the market value of your home as a starting point. You then have to figure what it will cost to sell the home. Add the cost to sell to the amount still owed and subtract that from your market value and you will have a rough idea of the proceeds you will have to work with when purchasing your new home.

Your market value has to be realistic, this is not what you think the house is worth. This should be what someone willing to pay for your house is willing to spend. For you, it is difficult to move past the emotional attachment (and the subtle impact that attachment has on your subconscious). The buyer is only attached to their MONEY. The buyer always has other options, including not buying anything.

Your cost to sell will include any repairs that need to be done to improve marketability, the fees charged by any sales assistance provider and settlement costs at closing.

Repairs include any updating, replacing or repainting. Updated, replaced and repainted sells. The original refrigerator that has the loose shelf won’t be overlooked by a potential buyer. The carpeting that needs more than cleaning won’t be missed by a potential buyer. The bedroom walls, all adorned with different paint colors won’t entice potential buyers.

Updated is encouraging, replaced indicates prior home care and repainted (a calm, neutral color) offers a buyer a palette that is more palatable.

The fees charged by sales assistance providers range from flat fees to a percentage of the sales price. They all happen to be negotiable.  Take a moment and understand, whomever you choose is working for you and there must be an agreement on the cost of their services. None of it is written in stone.

Your costs a closing will include the title companies charges and any taxes you are required to pay. (Note, your contract may include concessions made to the purchaser) These costs can be estimated at the time you put your home on the market.

Short Sale  –  If you own a home and want to sell but owe more than the market value, some things may have changed.  It is not like riding a bike. Laws in every jurisdiction change over time and if you owned in a different location, the laws may not be the same in your new location.  Just because you have owned in the past, you can not assume anything about this transaction.  You may be familiar with the terminology used, but the real estate environment has changed considerably in the past few years.  A person attempting a short sale needs a guide to assist them in moving through the transaction process smoothly and comfortably. If you are upside down on your mortgage, you will be best served by speaking with a Realtor that has experience with short sales or contacting a title attorney that has experience with these sorts of transactions.

Selling property for an Estate – If you currently the executor of an estate that needs to liquidate real property, you certainly have different challenges ahead. The property must be marketed and sold with a clear title. Often, information will have to be dispersed to several people  named in the will. There are times, when the decedent died intestate and the executor will have to liquidate assets to provide cash to cover final expenses.  There may be a need to have the home cleared and cleaned and staged.  We have found that most executors have a full plate and appreciate full service.  Your transaction will require diplomacy and strong negotiating skills.    If you are among this group of home sellers, you should check with the Register of Wills in the area and make sure you are proceeding according the laws of your jurisdiction.

Investor Selling–  If you are in the market to sell real estate you purchased as an investment,  your needs are quite different than those that  are selling property that has been owner occupied.  You face different challenges regarding potential financing and will be making business decisions rather than personal decisions.  In many cases you will be selling distressed properties that you have renovated.  You will need the assistance of someone familiar with the vehicles you will use to complete the transaction successfully. If you are selling property you purchased for investment purposes, you should sit down with an agent that is experienced in the instruments used by investors (i.e. 1031 exchange, builders contracts, etc.)

Relocating to another area–  If you are relocating from the Washington, DC area, you may fit one of the other categories as well as this one. The fact that you are moving to a new area increases the probability that you need lots of information about the area you are moving to as well as assistance in your specific seller category.  In addition to the information pertinent to your type, it is important that you have a source of local knowledge.  Traffic patterns, schools, shopping and life style choices all come in to play when you are moving to a new area. If you are relocating from the DC area, you should make contact with an experienced agent. Although, there is a great deal of information on the internet, someone that actually lives and works in the area will know the nuances that exist in DC.

Bank owned/REO Property –  If you are  a representative of a financial institution that is seeking to liquidate it’s real property portfolio, you have needs that are specific in nature. Unfortunately, the large number of homes that fall into this category has created an overload on employees of financial institutions. Mortgage holders are under pressure from the Federal Government, investors, the media, share holders and the public.  This situation has created a disparity between what many financial institutions are receiving and what they are paying for the services they receive. We offer concrete solutions to financial institutions.  We understand that those faced with the liquidation of property need support and patience.  If you are considering adding another Realtor to your effort in liquidating property, we would appreciate to have a discussion with you regarding our method representing financial institutions.

If you are ready to sell and wish for us to contact you, fill out the form below and we will contact you.

MacArthur receives J.D. Power Award!

John MacArthur receives J.D. Power Award for customer satisfaction

         RE/MAX Chairman and Co-Founder Dave Liniger offered congratulations saying “It truly reflects your professional excellence, your enthusiasm for education, your commitment to distressed sellers, your individual drive, and many other qualities that serve the interests of your clients. Your efforts change lives, and those people have spoken.”

         Home buyers and home sellers used a 1,000-point scale.  Consumers used the following categories:

  • Overall satisfaction
  • Agent/Salesperson professionalism
  • Variety of additional services
  • Real estate office
  • Real estate company marketing (seller survey only)
         MacArthur is licensed in the District of Columbia and the State of Maryland. His broker is Century 21 New Millennium located in Washington, DC.  Dave Stevens, the former Assistant Secretary – FHA Commissioner shared ” *“John is a true real estate professional who combines passion, integrity, and a deep knowledge of real estate to produce outstanding results”.
         If you are interested in having a JD Powers award winning agent represent you in your real estate transaction, you can contact John at 301-509-5111 or click CONTACT JOHN.

You want results … we deliver !

Buying, Selling 

You want results … we deliver !

          Unless you have actually been involved in the sale or purchase of a home this year, you may not understand what in the world is going on in real estate.  Interest rates remain low, apparently home prices have dropped significantly and yet, the news media keeps sharing dismal results.  You want results, we deliver.

         “The reality is that the well-documented contraction of mortgage credit, including larger down payment requirements, has actually put homeownership beyond the reach of many otherwise qualified homebuyers. Unfortunately, a steady drumbeat of headlines regarding this credit tightening has persuaded millions of potential homebuyers to abandon their dreams of home ownership.”  source http://www.workforce-resource.com

          If home prices dropped another 50%, the vast majority of buyers could not purchase them without a mortgage loan. If interest rates dropped to zero, it would not change the market if lenders do not make loans.  The access to mortgage money is the current roadblock to revival of the real estate market.

 You want results, we deliver.

          If you are considering selling your home, we will offer a full service listing for a rate between 5% and 6% (this does not apply to sellers that are in a “short sale status”).  If the home is priced right (based on local market, condition and location) it will sell!  Our fee is lower than most and you keep the difference. Money in your pocket, results, we deliver.

          If you are considering making a purchase, we will do everything possible to make sure you are aware of down payment assistance that is available to you (Everyone’s situation is different…don’t assume their is no help for you). Should you be successful in finding and purchasing a home, we will make sure you receive a rebate on the purchase price (this offer is not available if you were referred to us by a Broker that has to be paid a referral fee).

          A successful real estate transaction is possible today. You just have to exercise your right and choose an agent that will deliver.  You want results … we deliver !

Contact us now

John MacArthur

Lourdes Tudela

Century 21 New Millennium


Used and abused … will I ever find love again ?

Used and abused … will I ever find love again?  Oh, I don’t want to sound like a whiner. I have enjoyed the best of times. I had wonderful years when I was loved and cared for.  I have more than enough memories of laughter and hosting tender moments.  I have seen the joy in young children’s eyes and the never ending miracle of parent’s doing what they do best – parent.  I have also been witness to tears and sorrow (another important component of a well rounded life).

My strongest two memories are they day they came and the day they left.  Upon their arrival, my life began.  As I watched then take one last look at me, before driving off, I had no idea that moment would mark my spiral into misuse, disrepair and neglect.

Others around me had whispered that long distance relationships rarely turn out well.  Good intentions are often hard to fulfill from afar.  Life does get in the way.  Sometimes refusing to let go results in calamities that are difficult to resolve. It is safe to say my existence and condition today are a far cry from what any could have dreamed a few short years ago.

I can still remember the day ( December 2004 ) when Joe and Cindy pulled into the driveway. It was love at first sight.  They came through the front door and Cindy rushed from room to room, excitedly telling Joe about new colors and little changes she wanted to make.  Joe, quite the patient fellow, followed her in her journey, making notes and beaming.  When Cindy declared, “And we can put our Christmas tree right there in the corner by the fireplace”, I realized, they did not just own me … I was going to be their HOME!

I wasn’t a baby mind you, when Joe and Cindy showed up, I was almost 50 years old.  I lived in a quiet neighborhood and there were only 4 other houses just like me.  That’s right, I was the biggest model, featuring 5 floors.  I was the proud product of a local builder and architect.  When I was born,  the Yankees and Dodgers were battling for the supremacy of baseball.  There was a brand new fast food chain opening it’s doors ( I have heard that they actually have golden arches).

Americans were coming home from wars and neighborhoods were springing up surrounding cities across the country.  My design was grand.  I had 3 bedrooms and a full bath on my top floor.  One level down, I had this great open kitchen and dining area adjacent to a family room that was complete with a fireplace. Just off that level, I had this great screened porch ( with skylights no less ).  The next level down was the owners haven.  There was this great den/library/sitting room and a master suite area complete with a full bath.  Below  this level there was a full basement and one level down there was another full basement.  I was big and roomy and ready for lots of people.

Now my first 50 years had been blessed with wonderful owners. Family moments were etched in my memory ( and scrawled on closet walls and door jams ). Who knew that portions of my existence would be used to mark the growth of children, each new inch gained noted and dated with a #2 pencil.

Cindy and Joe were such a delightful couple. She was a spunk and energy and ideas and Joe was the handyman.  They went over me from top to bottom and took an empty house, filled it with love and made a home.  Holiday parties, birthdays and get togethers were shared again and again.  Glasses were raised and toasts made, penny ante poker and VHS movie nights took place.  I was a happy place.  Anytime something stopped working, Joe replaced it.  Anytime something got tired looking, Cindy told Joe and they changed it.  Sharing in caring was a family affair.

Then one day Joe sat Cindy down and told her that the country needed him to move to another base.  Their time in Maryland was drawing to a close.  They talked about what to do.  They could not part with me.  “It has been such a great house, we can’t just sell it.  What if we want to come back to Maryland when we retire?  Let’s just find someone that will rent the house while we are gone.”

With that decision,  I started down the road of misuse and abuse.  Oh Joe and Cindy thought they had found the perfect solution.  They had no idea that the people moving in would treat me so badly.  They did not know that my fine porch would become a kennel for pit bulls.  They could not have dreamed that I would be battered and beaten and knicked up and scuffed.  In their wildest dreams, they never could have seen the hell and horror I would go through.

Oh, when they discovered how I was being treated, they took action.  It took time and money, but finally I was empty again.  I was empty and shell of the house I used to be.  Still have great bones, but the aftermath of the terror-tenants has left me a bit battered.  Cindy and Joe came back and hired workman and had me re-painted.  They scrubbed and scoured and did their best to clean me up.  They brought the same love and compassion back.  It may be hard to see now.  I’m a little bit older and it may take a good imagination to see the joy that can still be found inside. It’s here. I have not moved. I am still in the same location on the same quiet street in the midst of the same wonderful neighborhood.  Come to think of it, that fast food place is still up the street beneath those now famous golden arches.

There is a for sale sign in the front yard and a sentri lockbox on the door.  Cindy and Joe are patiently waiting for the next folks to move in and experience the miracle of making a home.  In this market, prices are difficult to set and always negotiable.  If you read this and are looking for more than a house,  drive by,  take a look…I may be used and abuse, but I sure can be a home.

217 Coronet, Linthicum Heights, MD

         If you would like to see the home,  you have two choices depending on your situation.  If you have an agent, give them a call and they will take you there.  If you do not have an agent, give us a call (John MacArthur/Lourdes Tudela 301-509-5111 ) and we will make sure you have a chance to see the house.  Either way, you hold the answer to the question posed…will I ever find love again?

4.5% Listing Feedback…Still think you need to pay 5 or 6%?

Sure, there will always be naysayers.  There will always be those that refuse to accept that you could possibly receive a full service listing of your home for only 4.5%.

This is an unedited note from one of our recent clients. (Oh, the house sold in about two weeks!)

Hi John and Lourdes,

Sorry not to have written sooner.  It is just today that we’ve gotten our internet service in our house in Cambridge.

We are writing to thank you again and to express our appreciation for your help with the recent sale of our house in Derwood.  We’re very happy with the results.

You helped us work out the right price and get a solid contract in less than 3 weeks.  From start to finish, the whole process was uncomplicated and your advice helped us make good choices.  It seems to us that one special way you made our sale happen is by how well you leveraged the internet.

Recently, when searching for our new home in Cambridge, Barbara and I learned how important it is to have good internet presence.  We looked long and hard on-line and had a pretty good idea of what we were interested in before we ever contacted an agent for help.  That’s a big reason why, when it came time to get an agency’s help with listing and selling our Derwood house, we felt you were the right team to help us.   We think your detailed on-line listings – with great photos – and the articles and blogs you wrote got us sold quickly.  And, that this had a lot to do with our receiving two offers – with one being from out of state.

We’re very fortunate to have had such good guidance.

Many, many thanks,

Scott and Barbara Yann

If you are preparing to sell your home, you just might want to contact us.  

Washington Post…”average commission climbing”..We say 5% is enough!

You may get it … obviously, they don’t get it

          The “REAL ESTATE” section of the June,11, 2011 Washington Post features an article by Dina ElBoghdady titled “… And the broker takes a slice.  The story is sub-titled ” As market has soured, the average commission has been climbing.”  You can feast your eyes on the on-line version by clicking Post Article.

          If you visit the Post website to read the article, be sure to note the paid ad in the upper right hand corner.  Ms. ElBoghdaddy seems to have a certain slant to the article (through words, inferences and people she has chosen to quote).

If you have read this far, let me state… WE THINK LISTING RATES ARE TOO HIGH IN THE DC MARKET AND WE LIST HOMES FOR NO MORE THAN 5%.  You can now return to the gibberish shared in the article.

          The article does offer some insight into the mindset of sellers that wish to go it on their own.  The commission paid to the agents involved does come out of the sellers proceeds at closing.  Of course, the sellers proceeds come from the buyer at closing.  Who is actually paying the agents may be literally the seller but in reality it is the buyer providing the funds. If you focus on who is actually paying,  the seller is overlooking the more important question…”How much will I net from the sale of my home?”  Most sellers want and should receive full service from their agent. The price they pay should not be based on yesterday’s marketing, nor should it be based on the unwritten, but widely practiced 5.5%.

          The article indicates that the average commission being charged in the DC area has increased from a low of 5.02 percent in 2005 to 5.40 percent in 2010.  Those figures indicate that a lot of sellers are savoring the sizzle and never tasting the steak.  Those figures indicate that sellers are willing to pay more for less. In plain words, it may smell good on the grill but it tastes like shoe leather on your plate.

         Well, not so fast grasshopper.  Ms. ElBoghdady has reached out to some experts (?) to explain and justify this increase in commission rate.  The illustrious Steve Murray, president of Real Trends shared that “During the boom, competition among agents drove commission rates down. Now, agents are putting more time and money into marketing these homes, and they’re not as willing to compete with each other by lowering commissions.”  Hmmm..I guess it should be pointed out that Real Trends is a firm that makes its living off Real Estate agents.  They charge a fee to brokers so agents will have access to trade information and tips on how to make more money.  It would seem that Real Trends and Mr. Murray have a vested interest in agents earning more money.  I should point out that some agents that pay for his service, include the cost of his service in their annual budgeting  which then becomes a factor in the commission rate they will charge.

         The next expert (?) Ms. ElBoghdady quoted is none other than the president and chief operating officer of Long&Foster, the Washington area’s largest real estate brokerage. Jeff Detwiler ( formerly a big mortgage company executive…oops…does that resume say Countrywide????  Now their history in the industry just screams …expletives deleted).  Well, Mr. Detwiler shared “The lowest commission rates were in a marketplace where buyers and sellers were coming together on their own and agent’s job was to line up orders and show products.”

          ARE YOU KIDDING ME????  Note to Detwiler…. While you were rolling along in the Mozilo-mobile, Long and Foster agents were doing a damn site more than taking orders.  Of course, you may have missed that while you were dodging the bullets fired at Countrywide...see this story    I am not just sharing hearsay, I worked at Long & Foster and I am familiar with hundreds of agents and managers there.  Comments like this further erode your relationship with agents on the street.  Just shut up. Oh, and please check the history, Long and Foster was the firm that began charging 7% for listings until market pressure forced them to drop the policy. This occurred after the company claimed the higher fees were a success.

          The article progresses with Ms. Boghdady’s assertion that “many firms offer deeply discounted but limited services to such sellers.  She points to the Redfin model of rebating a portion of the commission back to customers and the Save6 model which offers a flat fee service.  Discount is an interesting adjective. It implies that there is a set rate which is discounted.  Whatever a broker is paid is negotiable. There are no discounts.

          The next area covered in the article covers the perils of “for sale by owner”.  Without attributing the statement to anyone, Ms. Boghdady states “sellers who go it alone…end up leaning heavily on the buyer’s agent.”  The buyer’s agent represents the buyer and can not give the seller any advice. It is against Maryland law. The buyer’s agent can not represent the seller. For sale by owner folks are on their own.  At this point she quotes Joan Caton Cromwell from McEnearney Associates “You end up doing the work that the seller should be paying their agent to do. Also, the sellers are emotionally involved with the property and they all think their house is the best house on the block.”  Smoke and mirrors folks. Of course many of the sellers are attached to their homes. The buyers agent can not advise them about the sales price. The buyers agent can only present an offer. It seems that some agents need to brush up on “whom the agent represents.”

         The next dance involves the amount of commission offered to the buyers agent.  Larry Lesson shares that “There’s no motivation for a Realtor to show a house if the seller is only offering 1 or 1.5 percent commission”.  I admire Mr. Lesson for professing what happens behind the curtain. I can also share that any agent that eliminates homes based on the commission being offered is operating outside the lines.  Jonathon Hill had the courage to share that agents “shouldn’t pick and choose based on what the agent wants.”  Buyers are supposed to have the option of choosing a home from homes that meet THEIR criteria.  Agents that eliminate homes because of the amount of commission offered are not interested in their buyer clients best interest. They are only interested in making as much money as possible. If you look at the bottom of the shoe labeled integrity, you can scrape these agents off.

         One other point was covered. What happens when a non-represented buyer shows up. Should the listing agent keep all the commission?  Some agents make a living “double siding” transactions.  At this point in my career, I don’t think it is a good way to do business. It is never an issue with our 5% listing service. If someone shows up without an agent, we will recommend an agent for them. We want no part of the buyer’s side of the commission. We want the 2.5% we share to be paid to an agent that represents the buyer. We firmly believe that both sides in the transaction should have their own representation.

        It is a very interesting article. It is not completely accurate, but one must consider the sources referenced.  We do offer a complete, full service listing service for 5%. If you wonder how, read this post.  If you are interested and wish to contact us, call us at Century 21 New Millennium (301)509-5111 or (202)656-5710  or use this form and we will be in touch


Selling your home? Why pay more ?

Here’s the deal. Brokers used to justify their 6% or 7% listing fee because there was a “cost” to marketing your home. They had pretty color glossary hand outs created that showed you the enormous cost of letting buyers know about your home.

Sure, they would list things like the Washington Post, Homes Magazine, the local Gazette, New Homes Guide and other real estate publications. They would have the cost of a virtual tour, color brochures and a sign out front listed as well.

They might have included the costs of broker’s open houses and general public open houses.

I have no doubt that back in the day; those were the only methods available to promote your home.


This is a new day.  The only thing that the Washington Post, Home Magazine, the local Gazette, New Homes Guide and other real estate publications promote is the agent listing your home.  They are asking you to pay for promoting their interests.

What about the virtual tour, the color brochures and that sign in the front yard?  Can I say “You tube”?  Can I share that creating a virtual tour is NOT brain surgery?  Those brochures are eye candy.  The people that pick them up are in the house. All of the pictures should be on line. Oh, and that sign out front with the listing agent’s picture and phone number; it shows the home is for sale but it promotes the listing agent.  They are asking you to foot the bill for things that either cost nothing or promote the agent.

Think about it. Should you pay for the cold cuts and soda served to agents that attend broker’s opens?  They are asking you to subsidize lunch for friends.

Almost all buyers find new homes on the internet.  Any agent worth his or her salt has a website and adding your listing does not cost a penny.  The majority of listings are found via the Multiple Listing Service.  Buyer’s agents review them daily. The use of the internet in marketing your home has slashed the cost agents used to pay.



We  only charge  4.5%

(You can take the rest to the bank!)


Washington’s Fine Properties

Washington DC has some of the finest properties in the area for sale.  The thing that amazes me is that those that own these properties and are attempting to sell them seem to have forgotten the basics of selling your home.  Maybe over the years, these folks have missed the changes that have taken place in real estate sales.  The only difference between these homes and homes in the suburbs is the number of zeros in the asking price and the location of the dirt they occupy.

They are still homes.  If marketed properly, they will sell.

I have had the opportunity to represent buyers seeking one of these fine Washington properties.  They did not use one of those out of date, flashy publications to do their search.  They did not flip through the Washington Post looking for a home.  They did not receive a post card in the mail that brought the home to their attention.

They found the information they were seeking right here on the world wide web.  

When representing these buyers, I have been perplexed by the limited opportunity to view homes.  Everyone can understand the desire to limit viewings to people that actually are in the market to buy.  It doesn’t matter if you are in a two bedroom condo in Germantown, Maryland or 6 bedroom home in Georgetown, Washington DC.  No one wants people that have neither the inclination nor wherewithal to purchase wandering through their home.  That being said, it is safe to share that bringing a buyer to one of the million dollar plus properties is often next to impossible.

During the listing appointment, I have no doubt the agents showed the glossy magazines and shared that they had a bevy of interested parties, etc.  I am sure they poo pooed negotiating commission.  Everything was shared in a manner that implied the agent was on the same social level as those wanting to sell.  Somebody forget to share that this is not a social endeavor, it is an attempt to sell your home for market value as quickly as possible. End of story.

It doesn’t matter if you are selling a home for $250,000 or $2,500,000.  The home has to be available.  Far be it from me to suggest a nefarious purpose behind making homes difficult to view.  There are some that might suggest that the listing agent is more available if they can get both sides of the deal.  Perish the thought.  It did strike me as odd that several weeks of attempting to view some homes have been met with excuses like the listing agent had to work at a charity event and could not make arrangements for the home to be shown.  Do the sellers really believe that the home will be sold quickly when it is not available to be seen?

Let me share.  If you list with me, your home will be available to anyone that is qualified to buy it.  Your home will be marketed where buyers are actually looking for homes.  I will be available to show your home as necessary. Oh, and I will do all of that for 4.5%.  My commission rate does not change.  Keep that in mind as your property just sits there waiting for a buyer.

If you are interested, just click on this CONTACT ME link.

Selling? Consider a Land Contract

Selling your home? Depending on your situation, you might want to consider a land contract. In the DC area, home sellers are still facing a depressed housing market. Regardless of the paper tiger pronouncements from the National Association of Realtors, people who live here know that the market is stagnant.

Sellers that place their home on the market face competition with bank owned properties that are for sale at reduced prices, homes put on the market by sellers seeking to complete a short sale (often marketed at a fantasy price), homes being sold by corporations and other sellers that are not upside down and just want to sell. The average days on market usually represents all of the homes for sale.

Faced with this situation, sellers need to be aware of every opportunity available so they can decide which way of selling the home will work to their benefit. The biggest factor behind the increasing days on the market is the fact that over 25% of the people who attempt to get a loan are turned down. The necessary credit score to get a mortgage has risen significantly. Despite information shared in the media, lenders have “overlays” that require a greater score and a squeaky clean credit history. It doesn’t matter if rates are low if those that wish to buy your home can not get a loan.

Another factor sellers face has to do with the appraised value of their home. Lenders will only approve mortgages for a percentage of the appraised value. If the appraised value is less than the contract price, there are a few options and none of them favor the seller. The buyer can opt to make up the difference in cash (in essence use their personal funds to pay more money than the lender has told them the home is worth), the seller can lower the price and if all that fails the contract can be declared void (legal term meaning everyone will act as if it never happened).

Consider a land contract. There are pros and cons to a land contract.  A land contract is a private, contractual agreement between a buyer and a seller. Due to the nature of the contract, sellers do not have to comply with the property-condition requirements that are usually part of a sale funded by a mortgage.  The seller decides upon whom to sell the property to in the agreement.  This creates an opening for people who can not get a loan through traditional methods.  These buyers can not shop around for loans seeking low-interest rates so the seller can demand a higher interest rate and probably a higher price than if the home were being financed by a third-party.  The title does not transfer until the loan is paid in full. This means that the seller retains legal ownership with the right to evict the buyers if they default on the payment plan.  If the buyer defaults, the seller keeps all the money paid.

There are other factors that must be considered. Land contracts do not provide a lump sum payment at the time of the contract.  The seller becomes the lender.  If you need the cash from the sale of your home to buy another property, this may not be the best way to proceed. If the full proceeds are not needed right away or if the market is so depressed there is no other way to move the property, a land contract may be the way to go.  The other point that must be considered is if the buyer stops paying, the seller must evict them and re-market the property.

Ideal candidates for this process include but are not limited to people who inherit property and want to sell it in a depressed market,  people who do not need a lump sum payment right now and people facing a financial crisis. You do not have to pay off your home to sell it via a land contract.  Land contracts and contracts for deed provide a  way for people to sell their homes and owner-finance them and not pay off the existing mortgage. A land contract establishes a purchase price and mortgage terms that the buyer pays to the current owner. If the seller currently has a mortgage lien, the seller continues to pay his monthly mortgage payment to the mortgage company.

Everyone’s situation is different.  If you would like more information about land contracts, CONTACT ME. My name is John MacArthur. I encourage you to experience the difference.