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.

I C C – inter-county connector (a home selection game changer)

It has been planned for over 50 years. It has withstood protests and lawsuits.  Regardless or which side of the battle you were on, the battle is over and the ICC is a reality.  One small stretch between 270 and Georgia Avenue opened in early 2010 with a great deal of fan fare and very little traffic.  Apparently, not many folks in the Olney area had a need to be in Rockville and there were not many westbound travelers that needed to make their way to Georgia Avenue.

Right around Thanksgiving the dynamics changed. The portion from Georgia Avenue to Interstate 95 was opened and lives were changed.  Obviously, there are many folks travelling south on 270 or 95 that wish to make the trek from one side of the county to the other without using the capital beltway.  For those out-of-towners reading this, the capital beltway (also know as 495) is a fancy name for a bumper to bumper parking lot that circles around Washington DC.

This is a map of the ICC.  The important points are the interchanges. The ICC can be accessed via 270 by using the 370 exit. There are exits at Shady Grove Metro, Georgia Avenue, Layhill Road, New Hampshire Avenue, Colesville Road, Briggs Chaney Road and 95.  A final exit at Virginia Manor Road with access to Route 1 will open later.

Rather that reprint the information regarding the ICC and the need for an E Z Pass, let me just add the link to the official website here….  EZ Pass   The EZ Pass is also used on other toll roads in the region. The devil is not in the details regarding the ICC.  The ICC is a time saver and opens many communities that used to be local road traffic stymied.

This may look like mortar and stone

but

it is really a great big job magnet

          It is no secret that a great majority of people living in the Maryland suburbs work in Washington, DC.  Access to DC in the past was limited to the use of 270 and then to feeder roads. There were other roads available, but 270 became the main funnel from Montgomery County into Washington DC.  The Metro, more specifically, the Redline of the Metro was and remains another conduit into the Nation’s Capital.  This created a lot of development along the 270 corridor.

The ICC opens up the Eastern portion of the County

         Now,  those that choose to live in Olney, Ashton, Sandy Spring, Layhill, Norbeck, Spencerville, Cloverly, Burtonsville, Laurel and areas close to them have a smooth access to Bethesda, Rockville, the 270 corridor, the redline at Shady Grove or Glenmont and many other commuter routes.  The time spent getting from here to there has been reduced.

         Those moving to the area and feeling they had to only focus on the 270 corridor have more choices.  Those people that used to think they had to move to Clarksburg or Urbana because of the need to use 270 now have more neighborhoods to choose from when moving.

          The eastern portion of Montgomery County has wonderful neighborhoods, lots of green space and plenty of things to do.  The ICC has created the opportunity to not only live a little closer to town, it has ended the long days journey into night of commuting into town using Colesville Road or New Hampshire Avenue.

         If you would like to know more about the neighborhoods that have become more desirable because of the ICC, let me know.  I have lived and worked here all my life. I not only know the roads, I have driven them and I know where the potholes exist.  My phone number is 301-509-5111.

All about Rockville, Maryland

ROCKVILLE HOME SEARCH

So, you want to know all about Rockville, Maryland?  There are plenty of sites on the internet that discuss the history of the town and make up of city hall, etc.  What about Rockville today?  People from all over the country are familiar with Rockville (at least they know it is reasonably close to Washington DC and lots of folks tell them it is the place to move if coming to Montgomery County, Maryland.).

Rockville is much larger than the little postage stamp area located at the intersection of Viers Mill Road and Rockville Pike.  Rockville stretches from Georgia Avenue to the east, the Beltway to the south, Potomac to the west and Gaithersburg to the north.  There are over 13 square miles that cover the area called Rockville.

Information to help Rockville, Maryland real estate buyers should include information about the neighborhoods that make us this area.

  • The Aspen Hill area, Wheaton Woods –  This tiny area of Rockville is really closer to Silver Spring/Glenmont than it is part of the Rockville community.  The homes in Aspen Hill Park and Aspen Knolls are older and priced considerably less than homes closer to Rockville or Olney ($250,000 and up).  The neighborhoods tend to include more working class residents.  Parking is a problem on many of the streets.  It is just north of the neighborhood Connecticut Avenue Estates.  There is shopping at the Aspen Hill Shopping Center which includes a Giant Food Store and other small retail shops.
  • Bel Pre WoodsBrooke Haven, English Manor– This area is just north of the Aspen Hill area.  The homes are priced a bit higher which is a result of location more than any other factor.  It is a bit farther north and has good access to Georgia Avenue which in turn can lead to the Glenmont Metro or the ICC. Shopping can be done in Aspen Hill or Leisure World.
  • Brooke Manor – OK, this is a development in and around what used to be Brook Johns old country club. The homes are much newer and more expensive.  It is located north of Norbeck Road and is a home owner association guided neighborhood.  It is located with good access to the ICC, Georgia Avenue and Norbeck Road.
  • Ellenwood, Flower Valley, Manor Lake, Manor Park, Manor Woods, Norbeck Estates, Norbeck Manor – this area is located north and south of Emory Road and the ICC.  The homes are a bit older but are priced in the $500,000 and up range.  The quality of the neighborhood experience and the general location are excellent.  The neighborhoods have access to walking trails and parks.
  • Burgundy Estates, Burgundy Hills, Burgundy Knolls, English Manor, Lincoln Park, Maryvale – These neighborhoods are closer to Rockville City and are priced between $250,000 and $350,000.  The homes are mostly older, built in the 50’s.  The neighborhoods are laid out in the old suburban grid pattern.  This area has access to the red line station in Rockville.
  • King Farm, Fallsgrove –  These two communities are like sister cities. They are both located north of Rockville Town Center.  They were both planned, developed and built by the same builders.  King Farm is older and a bit more developed, Fallsgrove is a bit newer and a bit farther out.  Both are planned communities that are built around a common shopping area.  Homes are more expensive, but the amenities of the planned developments are sought after by many buyers.
  • Luxmanor – This community is on the south side of Rockville ( actually reasonably close to Bethesda).  The location and size of the homes is reflected in their higher price tags. Homes here run from $700,000 to almost $2,000,000.  This is an established community that offers a sense of style and access to Bethesda and DC.
  • Montrose, Montrose Woods, Rockville Estates, Roxboro, Woodley Gardens – These communities are located in the area between Rockville Pike and Montrose Road.  The homes are favorably priced in the $500,000- $600,000 range.  The area is well established and features good access to major commuter thoroughfares.
  • Randolph Hills, Rockcrest, Parkwood – This is another older section of Rockville located off Randolph Road. The homes are older and priced lower than homes farther north or west. Homes in these neighborhoods are about $350,000.  The streets are a bit narrower and off street parking is a premium.
  • Twinbrook, Twinbrook Forest, Silver Rock, Stoneybrook Estates  – Many of these communities feature homes that were built following WWII and the Korean War.  They are mostly small bungalows and cape cods. Prices reflect the age and style.  Parking is a premium in these neighborhoods.

That covers most of the neighborhoods. I know them all well.  Anybody can tell you about the roads. I make it my business to know where the speed bumps are and where potential pot holes in your home search might exist.

Rockville  is split by one the most famous roads in retail shopping (no offense for Rodeo Drive).  It is said in retail and restaurant circles that “if you can’t make it on Rockville Pike, you can’t make it anywhere”.  The reason behind the saying drives local residents crazy.  You can’t drive on Rockville Pike and hope to get from here to there in a timely fashion. It is clogged from sun up to well after sun set with commuters, shoppers, tourist, the lost, the wandering and the rest. The road is bumper to bumper in both directions most of the day.  Area residents are convinced that if 9% of the people are unemployed, they are spending their time driving up and down Rockville Pike.

Local Attractions ;

  • Strathmore – High quality arts programming, designed for audiences of many tastes, served with the hospitality and warmth of a family enterprise, are the hallmarks of Strathmore. Seasonal outdoor events seek to be inclusive in their programming appeal, reaching out to people of all ages, interests and cultural heritage.
  • Beall-Dawson House – Which houses The Montgomery County Historical Society (MCHS) strives to highlight the role of history as a vital part of the cultural and social fabric of Montgomery County.
  • F.Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald Burial Place – Famed author and member of the “Lost Generation” and wife, one-time residents of Maryland, are interred here. The burial sites are located in Saint Mary’s Cemetery.
  • Rockville Town Center – Rockville Town Center is a welcoming and vibrant amenity in the heart of Rockville. The pedestrian-friendly streets and plaza, many restaurants and stores, Rockville Library and VisArts Center with its rooftop deck make Town Square a lively attraction.

Rockville is large and diverse.  If you are moving to the area, I will certainly offer all the information you need to make an informed decision.  Don’t rely on travel guides or real estate books, talk to someone that lives here. My name is John MacArthur and I can be reached at 301-509-5111. Experience the difference Experience makes!

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)

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