Monthly Archives: June 2009

First Time Home Buyer Open House Weekend Starts Tomorrow!

Our First Time Home Buyer Open House Weekend starts tomorrow! Preview over 30 homes priced for the First Time Home Buyer under $400,000.

View all of the homes that are open!


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Coming Soon: First Time Home Buyer Open House Weekend!

Whether you’re looking for a two-bedroom condo in the city or a two-story colonial in the suburbs, every first time buyer wants something that appeals to their personality as well as their wallet.

But where do you start? For the first-time home purchaser, there’s a whole language to learn —terms like inspectors, escrow and contingencies.

Your first stop on the road to homeownership should be a visit to our Passport to Homeownership Open House Weekend.

This educational open house event will help first timers navigate the home buying process. A variety of homes specially selected as the perfect price range for first time buyers will be held open! You’ll find everything you need – all in one place. From connecting you to a trusted agent specializing in first time buyers, to finding you a mortgage program that fits your needs. And we’ll hold your hand every step of the way. We’ll share up-to-date information on the $8,000 first time homebuyer tax credit, why now is the greatest time to buy, and tips on what to look for in your first home.

So ask your questions. Let us know what we can do to help you; and let the Northrop Team make the experience stress free and fun! Learn more about this event.

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Appraisers Advise Sellers How to Get Top Dollar

Want to get top dollar when you sell your home? Listen to what professional appraisers say.

Their job is to determine the true market value of homes so they know what makes a property sell for the greatest amount and can tell you how to best ready your home for market now and later.

“A few years ago, houses were selling quickly with little effort. Now many homeowners actually have to make improvements before they can sell their home,” said appraiser Mike Evans, a Fellow of the American Society of Appraisers (ASA).

In the term, cosmetic touch ups can help a home sell a faster. They include:

  • Updating the paint and carpeting. A fresh coat of paint (preferably white) inside and out and new floor covering give the home the look and smell of “new.” With the facelift treatment, gone are the wrinkles of cracking paint, the sags of aging wallpaper and the dark age spots of stains and spills. When in doubt, nothing works better than a fresh coat of white paint.
  • Heighten the curb appeal. How you home looks upon approach is its first impression. The idea is to make that first impression one that invites visitors inside for a longer look. At least work on the front yard, the backyard can wait, if necessary. Improve the landscaping, fix cracks and stains in the driveway and remove extraneous clutter.
  • Clean house. Cleaning house means mop, pail and elbow grease action, but also clearing clutter. Put stuff in storage if that’s what it takes to rid your home and garage of that unorganized look. Less is more when it comes to the appearance of larger looking rooms.

If you won’t sell your home for some time, but know that possibility looms, do the right improvement things, including:

  • Adding square footage. Appraisers say an addition provides more returned value to your home than most other improvements. While that doesn’t necessarily mean the buyer will pay the cost of the work in terms of a higher price, you likely will attract more buyers.
  • Build out your garage. All that clutter you cleared? The new buyer will want to put his or her junk right back in there. Buyers also want a comfy room for their cars. Add, expand or improve your garage and you’ll also increase the value of your home.
  • Think before you sink money into a pool. You may love the idea of having a pool, but a young family with small kids may see it as a potentially fatal accident waiting to happen. Other buyers don’t want the upkeep and costs that come with a pool. A pool will limit your buyers pool to only those who want a pool.
  • When you buy, think location. The best locations sell faster. Proximity to good schools, jobs, shopping and attractions and away from crime, heavy traffic, business, commercial or industrial locations helps homes sell faster and for more. Buy a home in a good location. Then you’ll have a home to sell in a good location. Location rules.

“It pays to plan to make home improvement decisions strategically if you may be selling a home in the next few years. Think in terms of increasing the value of your home and not just about design and decor,” said Evans.

Written by Broderick Perkins

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Economics 101: Moving Forward; The End is In Sight

It’s not over yet, but the end is in sight.

Economists are predicting an end to the current recession and Scott Anderson, Wells Fargo economist, is part of that group of optimists. “Green shoots have been proliferating in the economy and financial markets since January,” said Scott. “It’s a starting point, and these green shoots will turn into small plants. The economy could be growing by the third quarter this year and we’ll see stronger growth in the fourth quarter. I think we’ll see an end to the recession in a few months.”

Breaking Records

A recession, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research (the organization in charge of declaring a recession), is a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months. It’s normally visible in real GDP (gross domestic product), real income, employment, industrial production and wholesale-retail sales.

“This recession is causing a lot of panic because many young people in the work force haven’t seen a recession. The last major one we had was 1982-83 and many Generation X team members were too young to understand what was going on,” Scott said.

Recessions tend to happen every six years on average, and they usually last less than one year. The current recession has lasted 18 months. “This is one for the record books in terms of loss and length,” said Scott.

The May issue of “Economic Indicators,” a bimonthly publication that Scott develops for Wells Fargo team members and customers, shares highlights of the “Great Recession” of 2008-09. However, these aren’t what you’d expect to see in a normal list of highlights; it’s a list of the record-breaking damage to the economy we’ve experienced.

“Corporate profits have declined, the decline in the stock market is the worst it’s been since the Great Depression and unemployment may hit 10% by the time this is all over,” Scott said. “But things are looking up. For example, consumer spending has stabilized due to lower gas prices and strong tax refunds. Gas prices have dropped about 50% since last summer, and that has helped pull down inflation,” he explained.

“There are a number of indicators that also show we’re a few months away from the end of this recession. We’ve already mentioned consumer spending, but the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy is at work and the credit/liquidity facilities are working their magic. That led to a spring thaw in the credit freeze, which allowed mortgage rates to drop to historic lows last month, which in turn refueled the refinancing boom, giving folks more room in their budget to spend,” he said.

Watch These Indicators

By definition, indicators are statistics used to measure current conditions as well as to forecast financial or economic trends. A leading indicator is one that changes before the economy does, and a lagging indicator follows a change in the economy.

“When I look into my crystal ball, I look at several different indicators that move well ahead of GDP and employment data,” Scott said.

Housing starts – that’s the number of residential building construction projects that have begun during any particular month. – increased by 1% in April, which is the biggest one-month jump in several years. “The housing market is tantalizingly close to hitting bottom. Housing starts dropped 80% from their peak, but buyers are starting to come back into the market to snap up foreclosed or bank-owned homes,” Scott said.

Another indicator to watch is the Conference Board Leading Economic Indicator Index, which is made up of 10 forward-looking economic variables. “One is Consumer Goods Orders, which measures order flow, and since consumer spending makes up more than 70% of our GDP, that’s a good one to watch,” he said. “The stock market is also a good leading indicator to watch. It bottomed in March 2009, but is up strongly. The stock market can give false hope sometimes, but when you combine it with other indicators, you can make a convincing case for economic recovery.”

Scott said there was also a nice turn in the Consumer Confidence Index, a survey by the Conference Board that measures how optimistic or pessimistic consumers are about the economy. If consumers are optimistic, they’ll tend to purchase more goods and this increase in spending can stimulate the economy. “Consumer Confidence hit 54.9 in May after bottoming out at 26.9 in March, so there’s been a nice increase,” he said. “In May, 5.5% of households were planning to buy a car, up from 4% in March; and 28.7% said they’d buy major appliances in the next six months in May, as opposed to 24.5% in March.”

Unemployment data tends to be a lagging indicator, which is why unemployment will continue to rise even after economists like Scott predict the end of this recession. But Scott says following Initial Jobless Claims is a timely way to track unemployment. “When people lose jobs, they file for unemployment and every week the Department of Labor surveys the number of applications for unemployment,” he explained. “It’s weekly information that leads the monthly employment data. Initial Jobless Claims have improved since they peaked at the end of March, showing that labor market weakness may be ebbing.”

The Bottom Line

“I think the worst of this recession is over, although this will be one of the worst recessions of our lifetime,” Scott said. “I like to remind people that this, too, shall end. The economy follows the business cycle and it won’t keep dropping forever. From this economic decline, we’ll plant the seeds for expansion.”

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Preview beautiful NV town homes tomorrow!

You’re Invited to a Lunch & Learn at NV Homes Ellicott Square…

Imagine living in a beautiful, luxury, 2-car garage townhome minutes from sought after downtown Ellicott City for as little as $379,990. Every new’ townhome will include a stunning partial brick or stone elevation giving it the look and feel of Historic Ellicott City. With over 1,842 square feet of living space and 3+ Bedrooms, and 2+ bathrooms.

Attend our Lunch & Learn Workshop and find out how to:

-Stage Your Home -Price it Right -Get Top Dollar

We take the guess work out of selling your home. Through our aggressive marketing programs we introduce your home to the largest number of potential buyers, helping it sell fast and for top dollar. Be there as we unveil the benefits of our New Guaranteed Sale Program.

Directions: From US Rt 29, take Exit 24B for US-40 (Baltimore National Pike). Proceed 3.2 miles to a left turn onto Frederick Rd. (There are 2 Frederick Roads, PLEASE take the 2nd Frederick Rd, also MD-144.) Proceed .2 miles to a right onto Old Ellicott Circle. Model will be on your left.

proudly hosted by:

Click here to register!

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Montgomery County MD Named one of 10 Best Places to Retire

With the economy in turmoil and lifestyle preferences changing, traditional retirement counties aren’t looking as attractive as they used to. With this in mind, Forbes magazine set out to identify the Best Places to Grow Old.

The magazine mined data from the U.S. Census Bureau to determine where people older than 65 live now. It examined housing costs, employment opportunities, and the availability of hospitals and eldercare facilities, among other things.

Of counties with populations greater than 500,000, here are Forbes’ top picks of places in which to grow old gracefully:

  • Montgomery County, Pa.
  • Nassau County, N.Y.
  • Pima County, Ariz.
  • Palm Beach County, Fla.
  • Honolulu County, Hawaii
  • Brevard County, Fla.
  • Montgomery County, Md.
  • Ocean County, N.J.
  • Westchester County, N.Y.
  • Lancaster County, Pa.

Search for Montgomery County Real Estate

Source: Forbes, Lauren Sherman (05/18/2009)

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Monetizing the First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit to pay for closing costs

The Federal Housing Administration had previously announced in early May that First Time Home Buyers would be able to use the (up to) $8,000 tax credit towards the down payment or closing costs of their new home purchase for FHA loans. Later the government revised their position and it looked like First Time Home Buyers would not be able to use the funds in advance.

New guidelines have just been released which now allow First Time Home Buyers to use the tax credit in advance, with the following restrictions:

  1. The monetizing of the tax credit cannot be used for the 3.5% down payment required by FHA. It can only be used for settlement expenses, or additional down payment funds in excess of the 3.5% or to buy down the interest rate.
  2. The funds to monetize the tax credit cannot come from anyone who may have an interest in the transaction – the seller, the lender, the real estate agent, the builder, etc.
  3. The funds to monetize the tax credit CAN come from a family member, any other non-interested party or another finance shop. The limit however is that any finance firm cannot exceed a 2.5% fee (which would limit the interest of any consumer finance agency from participating as an organization to monetize the credit).
  4. A lien cannot be recorded for the monetized finance amount unless the lender is one of the narrowly approved government sponsored non-profits.
  5. Repayment of the advance must come from the buyer – the IRS will still send the tax credit to the buyer and the buyer will have to repay the advance to whomever loaned it.

Have questions about how you can monetize the tax credit, contact us.

Start your home search now.

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