Inman News supports dubious financing

I just read an article by Stephen Fishman for Inman News.  The article was titled “Short on real estate down payment? Use your IRA.”.  You may be able to view it by using this LINK .  The gist of the article supports dipping into your retirement account if you are a first time home buyer and need up to $10,000 ($20,000 if married and spouse has IRA account as well).  The IRS description of a first time home buyer in this scenario means first time in two years.

I don’t want to be a wet blanket, but isn’t part of the reason we got into the real estate jam had to do with creative financing.  Yes, the money in the IRA account is legally available. I suppose it seems innocuous when you use the initials regarding the source of the money. IRA sounds much easier to raid than Individual Retirement Account.  It is not a rainy day savings account, it is a retirement account.  It was set up to provide an income for the owner when they retire.

I realize that buying a home is a bit more difficult today.  Banks and other lenders do require a larger down payment for a conventional loan. Did I miss something?  I am pretty sure that FHA loans are still available and they require a much smaller down payment.  Yes, there is an additional cost to an FHA loan, but the loan may not require you to dip into money you will need in the future.

How much can dipping into that nest egg impact your retirement?  Well, using conservative estimates, that $10,000 or $20,000 you pluck out for down payment money could be worth $50,000 or $100,000 in 25 years. Simply put, that means the money would grow 5 times by the time you retire.  What do you think the down payment money will be worth?  Do you believe it will grow 5 fold while you are in the house?  In most cases, you will be moving again in 5-7 years and you will burn up your equity in closing costs and down payment on your next home. Retirement money is for retirement. No one can portend what will happen with social security and in light of the financial mess that is occurring every where, prudence indicates you should be setting aside money to offset the cost of retiring. You might want to think about all those retiring today that have a good chance of out living their retirement money.

The picture is not what anyone plans to have in their pantry for dinner consumption.  There are retirees that are choosing to eat cat food because they don’t have enough money for food. They did not plan to be in that situation. They failed to plan to be in a better situation.  Some of them even spent money set aside for retirement. Decisions made while you are in your twenties and thirties can and do come back to bite you.

If you want to buy a home. Sit down with a lender. Find out what you can do with the cash that is readily available. Find out how much house you can comfortably afford on the amount of money you are comfortable paying each month. Then take a deep breath.  Don’t be caught up in the “interest rates are historically low” headlines. Don’t believe that if you don’t buy now, all the bargains will be gone.  Those are general, emotional head line grabbing statements.  Be patient, if you don’t have enough money in savings to buy a home, it probably isn’t time for you to buy.

Should you be graced with a long life, you will have plenty of time to buy a home. It is better to make sure you will enjoy where ever you live when you retire. I will repeat the mantra one more time. Retirement accounts are for retirement. Don’t let sloppy government regulations fool you into believing anything else.

I sell homes for a living. Your waiting until the time is right won’t affect me. There are people that are in a position to buy now. Your waiting will guarantee that you put your ducks in a row and made a conscious decision to be prudent and wise.

Experience…the difference; Experience the difference!

I believe that anyone seriously interested in buying a home possesses an attention span greater than 140 characters.  If you fall outside of those parameters, you need to slow down.

One of the largest purchases of your life is important enough that you set aside 5 or 10 minutes to read information. Maybe a good rule of thumb should be that you devote one minute of reading for every thousand dollars you plan to spend.

After all, it’s your money, your house, your life.

Consider this a job application.

I want to work for you.

You may not realize it, but you need to hire me.

My name is John MacArthur and I am a Realtor in the DC area (Maryland and the District of Columbia).

c21nm  Century 21 New Millennium

The first thing most people consider is the broker. My broker is the number one Century 21 franchise in the world. I don’t work for some cute little boutique firm.  I don’t work for one of those “mom and pop” companies that are still locked into the way things were done before Al Gore invented the internet.  I don’t work for some local firm trading off the name of their forefathers. Nope, I work for Century 21 New Millennium and I have all the resources necessary to assist you.  My broker has been heralded as being ahead of the curve and creating a real estate experience based on today and tomorrow.  Having those resources behind you will give you the support you need to find the right home.

Reputation

When seeking someone to represent you in your undertaking, you have to have more than a gut feeling about your decision.  Certainly, you can ask for references.  The downside of getting a list of references is that they will all be stacked in the favor of the person offering the list. Only an idiot would give you the name and number of a disgruntled past client.  The other hiccup involves the people on the list. Some people do not want their name and number given out.  I always like to offer a recommendation I am very proud to have received a JD Powers award for customer satisfaction.

“John is a true real estate professional who combines passion, integrity, and a deep knowledge of real estate to produce outstanding results”
                                                                                                                                                      David H. Stevens, Assistant Secretary – former, FHA Commissioner at HUD
Results
Your comfort level during the process is a number one priority.  Too often, consumers feel like they are talking to a wall when purchasing a home.  Too often, consumers are being shown homes that are not even remotely close to what they are seeking and often priced no where near what they would be comfortable spending.  While working together, you have my focus on the task at hand.  I listen to you. I hear what you are saying .  I provide feedback. The truth. There is no need to go seeking dreams. Home buyers need to be working in real terms with attainable goals.
I will share the truth with you. It is important for  you to have complete information about neighborhoods, traffic, schools and value. Understand, the asking price on any home is just a number. Your offer has to be rooted in value to you. It is my job to prepare you.
John MacArthur
This is my profession.  I do this on a full time basis. When I am not working with clients, I am staying up to date on market changes, changes in the laws, changes in financing and changes in real estate.  It is not secret that the market has changed a great deal. I make sure that I keep my finger on the pulse of the market.  I have negotiated million dollar contracts and made sure that an $18,900 purchase transpired correctly. I have served on advisory committees to the Montgomery County Council and represented the Montgomery County Contingent at the National Head Start Meetings. I have worked with the County Council on services for Clarksburg.  I have lived in this area my entire life. I have raised a family here.  I know the I-270 corridor and the brand new ICC and more importantly, I know where all the pot holes are and how to avoid them.  This is my home and I look forward to helping you make it yours.
I can be reached at 301-509-5111.  Experience … the difference; Experience the difference !

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.

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?