Home buying stress? You are not alone!

It is not easy being YOU

          It is another day in your quest to buy a home.  Depending on the length of your current journey, at times you are feeling like that tiny bit of dust caught between a very solid rock and hard spot.  You know all the things that are bothering you and nobody else seems to get it.  You are not alone.

          There is a very old saying “an apple does not fall far from the tree”.  You hear it when folks are describing how children seem to have many of the characteristics of their parents.  People chuckle and give a knowing nod and the moment passes. Most of us do have some characteristics that seem awfully similar to our parents.  Oh sure, we strive to be better.  We secretly fear that we are becoming our mother or father. We all want to be in individual, viewed on our own merits.  But still, we are all slaves to our up bringing and the world that formed us.

          You may be wondering, what does this have to do with your current stress level?  Everything.  You see, the world that you grew up in was as large as the universe you understood and as small as the invisible barriers you did not realize existed.  Your world was shaped at your dining room table.  Dining room table worlds are like snow flakes, no two of them are exactly alike.   Your experience and understanding are what you bring to the home buying process. It may be the biggest piece of the puzzle (after all, you are buying the home), but yours is just one piece that has to some how smoothly interact with all the other pieces.

        

They all apples and none of them are exactly alike.

          Your real estate agent, your lender, your home inspector, your appraiser, your spouse or co-buyer (if any) are all apples in their own right.  They all have fallen close to their own tree.  They bring their background, belief system and personal style to your journey.  Just like you, every single one of them believes what they are saying and doing is the right thing.  Often, they use language from their industry that is comfortable to them but entirely foreign to you. You have to add to the mix that they are interpreting every thing you say based on their understanding of the words and phrases you use.  In the effort  to make sure everyone is on the same page, at the same time, the process may seem to slow down or come to a screeching halt.  It is still moving forward, but it sure can feel like progress is not part of the equation.

          Your stress is a direct result of the difference between your expectations and your perception of the reality of the moment.  Whether anyone wants to accept it or not, perception is your reality.  How well your expectations are being managed will directly impact your stress level.  Something that may be overlooked is the fact that everyone else involved is dealing with perceptions, expectations and stress.  You are not alone.

How do you take all these apples and make the best pie?

          You can’t.  Individually, your agent, your lender, your home inspector, your appraiser, your spouse or co-buyer can not do it alone either.  This is one case where too many cooks can not spoil the broth.  Everyone has to work to understand where each person is in the process.  Even if everyone has an understanding, stress will exist.  You can lower your stress level if you calmly express your concerns and make sure that your concerns are understood. Once your concerns are expressed and understood, you can get answers. If the answer is not understood, ask the question again, and again and again until you hear and understand the answer.  Knowledge can help alleviate the stress.

          Sure, you will get answers that compound your problem at times, but if you know the problem, you can search for a solution.  Seeking a solution will bring stress, but it should be eustress.  Feeling out of the loop only generates distress.

          One thing you can be sure of in your situation.  You are not alone.  If I can be of any help in your home buying journey, I promise you that I will do my part of focus on you and do my best to make sure you understand the process. My direct phone number is 301-509-5111 (I can also be reached via text message at that number)

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

301-509-5111

Same sex couples find refuge in DC

         Back in March, the District of Columbia began allowing same sex couples the opportunity to marry.  The usual suspects attempted to reverse this decision, but in July the courts upheld the original law.  DC already had a reputation for being “gay friendly” ( I personally think that the term should be “somewhat tolerant if you stay in limited areas and keep your fondness for one another private”).  Friendly is not the word that immediately comes to mind when considering the vitriol and animosity shared by the narrow minded neanderthalic and religious conservatives. To my way of thinking, the human race has bigger fish to fry than expending so much energy on trying to prevent basic human rights and considerations being afforded to EVERYONE.

          I do not live in a vacuum and I am perfectly content to accept that there is room on this mortal coil for people of all persuasions.  As long as one’s chosen lifestyle does not infringe on the right’s of another, they should have the opportunity to seek “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. ( If that sounds vaguely familiar, it is taken directly from the Declaration of Independence. A little document our founders put together without reference to marital relationships. It was directed to everyone, well almost everyone, it took the Civil Rights Act to increase the African American from 3/5th’s to a whole.)

          The DC law has ” leveled the playing field” for same sex couples. Concerns about the right to do something as basic as visiting a partner in the hospital or whom to list as an emergency contact are no longer an issue in the District of Columbia.  The law does not mean that those opposed will be silenced, it does mean that if you are in love and want to be married, DC will grant you that opportunity. It’s about time that the removal of stigmas associated with caring for a same sex partner were legislatively removed.  It’s about time we allowed couples to legally marry.

          I am sure that there will be those that decide to not do business with me because I support this basic human right.  Truth be told, I won’t miss them. I would prefer not to do business with people that have a warped sense of supremacy.  Business transactions are much smoother when you deal with people that are comfortable in their own skin.

         Had the law been passed sooner, I could have attended family members weddings (I was not able to travel to a past wedding that had to take place hundreds of miles away because two people in love happened to be of the same sex.)  I won’t drop that old ” I have lots of (gay,black,jewish, insert any group) friends” line.  Truth be told, everyone has friends from every walk of life and lifestyle (some of you just don’t know it!).

         You see, I don’t care what consenting adults do in their bedroom. Professionally, I want to be sure that they find the bedroom they want.  I don’t care who is relegated to cooking. Professionally, I want to be sure that the kitchen they find is suitable for their culinary skills.  I don’t care about the ethnic, racial, religious or sexual persuasion of the friends enjoying a backyard barbecue.  Professionally, I want to be sure that the backyard is the size they desire. My job is to help people find a place they can call home.  I like what I do.

          I am a Realtor. I am licensed in the District of Columbia.  I don’t believe that your personal comfort zone eliminates me from representing you.  I happen to believe that people want experienced assistance.  The experience may include people from all walks of life, but the common denominator is the ability to find a home, negotiate a transaction while protecting the client’s interests.  The practice of solid real estate is the basis of my business.  I love the challenge of finding the right home at the right price for my clients.  I think everyone deserves that sort of representation.

          I was born in Washington DC and I have seen it go through growing pains and metamorphis into the city it is today. I have watched it move from a sleepy southern town to vibrant metropolis.  I miss Griffith Stadium but love the new ballpark.  I still sneak a bowl of Chili at Bens now and then.  I know the traffic patterns.  I am happy that the P Street beach remains and still find spending an afternoon at Dupont Circle relaxing. I am glad the DC government seems to be functioning more smoothly and I share the angst of many with the foibles that are ongoing in the Mayor’s Office and City Council.  The city continues to improve despite their short comings.

         DC is a Capital City.  DC has taken a large step towards equality for all it’s residents.  DC is a great place to live. If you are interested in moving to the District of Columbia, I would welcome the opportunity to assist you.  I can be reached at 301-509-5111.  Isn’t it nice that same sex couples find refuge in DC?

Buyers beware … Fair Housing does not limit your decisions

Buyers beware, Fair Housing does not limit your decisions.  The Fair Housing Act was adopted in 1968 and then modified by amendments in 1988.   The law was part of the Civil Rights Act.  In short, it prohibited discriminating against people based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicap, when those people are seeking housing.

The law covers those that are selling, renting or lending money to people.  End of story.

This may be one of the intended goals.

It is far from reality.

         People by nature are more comfortable with people that are from a similar race, color, national origin, or religion. People often prefer to live in an area where their particular chosen lifestyle is accepted.  People, across the board, want to feel comfortable in their new living environment.  It is just my opinion, but that seems to be human nature.

It is not a violation of the Fair Housing Act to assist them in finding a home that THEY want.

         Real estate agents seem to get confused or perplexed when dealing with buyers and/or renters.  They rebuff inquiries about neighborhoods or fall into the “strange mode” of ” I can show you anything based on your criteria, but I can not comment on the racial make up, color make up, predominant national origin or predominant religion in any area.” “I can not tell you about schools, crime or sexual offenders, but I can direct you to websites where you can discover the information your self.  I can not tell you about any potential changes to the community, but I can direct you to the planning office where you can research that information for yourself.”

          When asked, what then is your value Mr. or Ms. Realtor, I guess they can reply “I have access to the homes. I can open the door for you.”

          Oh, now there is justification for the money you earn! 

         It would seem to me that the value of an agent working with a buyer or renter is in part their knowledge of the community.  Clients come to agents and are quite open in their desires.  Should they be left to the whims of the agent? If someone asks to live in a predominantly Asian community, is the agent doing their job when they drive them all over hill and dale (when any agent that actually lives and works in the area knows full well where Asian communities are located).

          If a client wants to look at homes that are within walking distance of a religious location, is the agent doing their job when that drive them all over hill and dale ( when any agent that actually lives and works in the area knows full well where religious locations are located).

         I happen to believe that locating the right home is my job.  If there is reluctance on the part of the seller because of the race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicap of my client, well then we shall seek the protection of the Fair Housing Act.  That is what the act exist for…to protect, not hinder those that are buying or renting a home.

          If you happen to be a single woman and the thought of walking through the gauntlet of young men jeering every night when you come home makes you sick,  you do have a right to find a home that may preclude that experience.  If you have a good agent, they should be able to assist you.  Just because testosterone laden cat calls are not illegal, does not mean you have to live where they might well exist.

         The internet is chock full of data that buyers can use. You can go to crime sites and see the crimes reported. You can go to city data sites and see the demographics of a neighborhood.  You can go to school sites and see the demographics of any school, including test rankings, racial breakdown and percentage of free lunch participants.  You can search and juggle data as infinitum.  Your agent should have internet access as well.

The law dictates that you can not be discriminated against on basic criteria.  YOU have the right to discriminate against anything you like when you are buying or renting.  No government can dictate where you choose to live.

          Buyers beware … fair housing does not limit your decisions. Fair housing protects your right to act on those decisions.  The law is a good law, but it is not a guideline for purchase or rental decisions.  Keep that in mind the next time you ask an intelligent question of an agent and get sent to Wikipedia or Google.

First Time Buyer Grant Money Is Now Available

First time buyer grant money is now available in the DC area.  There are several sources of this money.  The amount can be as high as $7,500. It almost sounds to good to be true!  There must be a catch. Right?  Well, there is no catch, you only need to qualify for a loan from one of the lenders participating in the plan.  This is grant money.  After you live in the home for five years, it is completely forgiven. (If you move prior to five years, it is forgiven on a pro-rated basis).

Who is funding the plan?  Well, actually the Federal Government is supporting the First Time Buyer Grant Money program by funneling the money through designated lenders across the country.  If you wish to make contact with one of the lenders, information is available at Home Buying Help.

When is the money available?  The limited funds for the First Time Buyer Grant Money have been allocated for this year.  Each lender has a specific amount of money for the program.  Once they run out of  funds, they must wait until either a possible re-replenishment  from the government or the funds are released next year. In my experience, the funds usually last until fall.  The lenders that I work with have all reported that there experience has been the same.

What does it take to qualify?  As I mentioned, the first requirement in receiving the First Time Buyer Grant Money, you have to qualify for a loan (this includes FHA loans). There are income limits.  There is a limit to the amount of home you are seeking to purchase. These limits and amounts vary and you need to actually speak with someone to see if you qualify.

Where do I find out more about the First Time Buyer Grant Money that is now available?  Information about the grant is available at  Home Buying Help.

Why haven’t I heard about this First Time Buyer Grant Money before now?  Possibly, you have not had the chance to deal with a real estate agent that understands all the facets of working with a first time buyer.  The choice of a lender, the selection of a home and the process between your offer and closing take skill.  Experienced agents know there is more to helping a buyer than sending them emails of homes and taking them out on weekends.

How do I take advantage of this First Time Buyer Grant Money?  Well, your first step is to speak with one of the local lenders that has access to the funds. ( Contact Now ).  Once qualified, the money can be used for down payment and/or closing costs on your new home.

First time buyer grant money is now available. If you are interested in learning more, contact me at 301-509-5111.

The Second Step in Home Buying

The second step in home buying is making a careful determination of your needs. This determination should include, but is not limited to the size, type and location of your new home.  As mention in my earlier article (The first step in Home Buying), you should have already spoken with a lender regarding how much money you are comfortable spending on your new home.  Don’t be surprised if the figure is impacted by other monthly costs associated with the home you choose.  You have a monthly payment amount that is in your comfort zone. In addition to the cost of your loan, you will have taxes, insurance and possibly Homeowner’s Association and/or Condominium Fees.

Let’s review the best way to answer the questions regarding a determination of  your needs. Each of the basic questions must be reviewed and clarified before going out and looking at homes. It is quite possible that after your first or second or third day viewing homes, you will revise your needs based on what is available for purchase. Just as the market is always in flux, your needs list should be adaptable. Let me be very clear, adaptable means that you do have a base line for “must be” or “must have”  but there are things that are not essential to the purchase. Your determination of needs should include both “must be” or “must have” as well as “like it to be” or “would be nice to have” items.

  • The first item on the list is size of the home.  Size is sometimes thought of  in square footage and others are referring to the number of various rooms in the new home.  It is probably a good idea to initially focus on how many bedrooms and bathrooms you will need.  If you narrow your selection in this fashion, you can then evaluate the square footage when viewing homes.  The square footage that shows in the multiple listing service is only a guide.  The use of the square footage can best be appreciated when viewing the home.  You have to visit the home and visualize your furniture in the new space.  You have to feel the home.  When considering the number of bedrooms and bathrooms in the home, do not overlook your need for a home office ( second bedroom ) and if you are buying a two bedroom (or more), it is better for future resale to have at least two bathrooms.
  • The second item on the list is the type of home you want to purchase.  There are many options. Your choice should include your comfort level with the various styles. There are “apartment-like” homes that are usually condominiums or co-ops, there are “piggy back” style homes (one unit over the other), there are row houses or town homes, there are duplex (two units side by side) and there are single family homes.  The amount of money that you are comfortable spending may limit your choices in type.  I have listed them in the general order of lowest price to highest price (there are always exceptions).  A good real estate agent will be able to go over the different styles available in your price range in your market.
  • The third item shared regarding things you need to evaluate is location. The location you choose will often determine the size and type of home you can afford.  It has often been shared that all real estate is about location, location, location.  Why?  Where you actually live impacts every aspect of your life.  It is the starting point and ending point of every work day. How you get to and from the locations is every bit as important as where the location is actually on the map.  The decision about location has to move beyond the usual questions about schools and safety.  In the DC area, the length of your commute will impact how you feel when you get to work and how you feel when you get home.  The ideal home never has a chance to live up to your expectations if you are exhausted by the time you get home every night.  The caveat here is that you have to accept the reality of the commuter time before you purchase (always picture the worst case scenario).  This is another area in which an experienced agent that has complete knowledge of the area is needed.  The longer someone has lived in an area, the more likely they know the alternative routes to get from your new home to your job.  Location is much more than where, location is one piece that needs to fit into the puzzle of your life comfortably.

The second step in home buying is making a careful determination of your needs. If you share your list with an experienced real estate agent, you will find your home search is more productive.  Finding “the” home for you will still feel like looking for a needle in a haystack, but at least you will know , pretty much, the type of needle you are seeking.

If you have any questions about preparing your list, you can always contact me directly.  Contact John.