Sunday, April 10, 2016

Maryland Real Estate Market Data for April 2016

Many people will attempt to mislead you about the state of the current real estate market in Maryland, and the rest of the U.S. for that matter. It might be because they haven't "seen" the growth with their own eyes. Another reason is political; people will reject the idea of an improving economy because they don't want to give credit to the current Presidential administration. 

I don't care about politics or what I can see what my own eyes (although I never discount what's in front of my face!). Yes, my company has seen a sharp increase in residential sales over the past year, which drove me to look at the numbers (which represent facts, mind you!), and when I did, the data only supported my assumption: overall residential sales are rising at a rapid pace! 

The chart above provides a glimpse into the Maryland real estate market, which I will summarize as quickly as I can. The number of units is the sales increase year over year, as of the end of February, 2016. Average and Median prices are just that, and Pending includes the number of contracts that are under contract. A quick sidenote about pending contracts: a couple of years ago, the amount of pending contracts meant nothing, because so many deals were falling through. This was happening for a variety of reasons, but the main reasons were buyers getting cold feet (due to concern about their ability to repay that mortgage note), and difficulties getting financing. The amount of "fall-throughs", as I have termed them, dropped considerably in 2015, and that trend is continuing now. Despite the increase in prices, the amount of Active Inventory is down, which is making it a little more difficult on motivated buyers. 

So what does this all mean? The Maryland real estate market is quickly recovering, making the transition from a buyer's market to a seller's, and we can anticipate prices to jump even more in the near term. The months of inventory will continue falling, providing the leading indication that the market is healthy. Take advantage of low rates while you can and buy the home you've been wanting, whether you're a first timer or a move-up candidate that has been waiting for the right time! 

Contact me for more information at, visit my website at, or phone me at (443) 866-6728. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Looking AT Homes vs Looking FOR a Home

Have you been looking at homes or looking for a home? I know they sound like the same thing; after all, I only exchanged a preposition in each statement. How much could that really affect the meaning?

The answer is a lot.

The 1st example of looking at a home is just that. You are viewing a property for any number of reasons, similar to the way an art critic views a painting at a gallery. You will have an opinion about the size of the lot, construction materials, and the colors the homeowner used in the living room. You might even notice if there has been deferred maintenance, but the key point is you are indifferent about the house overall.

The 2nd example implies much more on the part of the viewer. If you are looking for a home, you will have a plan beforehand. You know the location that most interests you, home size, and amenities that mean the most to you. You have specific goals, and if you’ve been given the right information, these goals are realistic. After touring some properties in your criteria, you are able to narrow down your choices to a chosen few. Eventually, you make an offer and close on the home of your choice.

Do you see the differences now? Looking at homes will get you nowhere. Without a clear plan, you will only look at home after home, never making a decision, but continuing to ask questions. You will look at everything, because you never created a plan, and eventually, you will fall into what I call the “merry-go-round” syndrome.

If you plan to buy in the near future, it is best to have a plan and to focus on your goals. Talk to the right people who will understand your situation, point you in the right direction, and most importantly, make sure you are looking for the home of your choice and not just looking at them!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

It’s been a Tough Winter, but Snow What?

We all know how rough this winter has been in the Northeast. Snow levels have been as high as 45” this season in some areas of Maryland, more than twice as much as the usual 20” that the state averages. As a result, schools and businesses have been closed much more often than normal, causing problems for parents and an economy that has been struggling to complete a full rebound.

Throughout this, the real estate market has followed an unusual path. While sales were up regularly on a year over year basis in 2013, a reduction in inventory began to threaten the progress. Interest rates spiked last summer, when the stock market began to turn bullish, but overall, sales during 2013 finished strong.
Prior to the winter season, we dealt with a Congress that shut down for more than two weeks, slowing progress with Government-backed loans. Now, because of the sporadic snowstorms, the recovery is delayed yet again.
But there is a bright side. There is still demand in the market, and the sellers that have been withholding are going to start listing their home because of the lower inventory and upward pressure on prices. There is also a threat that interest rates will start climbing again, pressuring people that have been taking their time to find a new home.

In this time before this last storm (hopefully the last, anyway), expect for a surge in activity when the weather breaks. Buyers will hit the market in a fury, and sellers will slowly start gaining the power back. Whatever your situation, contact me at or early to develop your best strategy for your real estate goals. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Get a "Good Deal"

Have you taken notice of the real estate market recently? I know most of the hubub about property in recent years has been that the market is a mess, foreclosures were widespread, and that housing was the cause of the financial crisis. These things are starting to change, but some people are still caught in the news from recent years past.

Inventory (available homes for sale) has been decreasing steadily, leaving less for potential buyers to choose from. Depending on the number of buyers in the market, this could cause upward pressure on prices. Interest rates are trickling upward as well, although the sharpest spike was seen last summer, when rates climbed almost 100 basis points in less than a month. While home prices rose notably in 2013, the jump is expected to be greater in the year to come.

If you're in the market to buy, how do you evaluate what you want? There are a lot of factors people use-the home's layout, square footage, school system, age, style-although the list goes on and on. Some things are more important for certain people than others, and they will apply more weight to the most important. This is expected, but only within reason.

Despite the obvious direction that housing is taking, some people are preoccupied with getting a "good deal." What this means is hard to determine, but layman will likely rely on the spread between list price and purchase price (for instance, the home is listed for $260,000, but they got it for $240,000, and the spread is $20,000 or about 7.5%). Getting a home at less than list price can happen if it's overpriced and the seller is motivated, but if its priced correctly, making a low offer could only cost you the home of your dreams.

Many people have different criteria for the home they want, but whatever your concerns, be informed about the current market and pricing in your area. We are out of the economic recession and the market is coming back quickly, so be prepared to make a strong offer for the property that you feel meets your needs.

For more information about residential or commercial real estate, feel free to contact me at or

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Buy a Home and Subsidize Your Retirement

We all know how historically low interest rates have been over the past few years. The federal Government has been pumping money into the system, and although they have been rather selective, banks have been lending at very affordable rates.

Along with this trend has been the spike in rental prices. As fewer people could buy and more needed to rent, rental property prices started to go up. This has also been influenced by the unemployment rates, which have been higher than usual as well, although they are starting to pull back. Despite this, many economists believe that the level of unemployment might remain higher than what we've been used to.

So while rates are still lower than usual and home prices very attractive, you still have time to jump in and take advantage of some serious savings. The following scenario compares renting vs. buying and is based on an actual active listing located at 2957 Raking Leaf drive, Abingdon, MD 21009.

What does this mean? Basically, at today's interest rates (4.5% rounded up from 4.44%), according to, you will save $125.42 per month buying instead of renting. If you were to invest those savings and only received an average of 6% over the next 30 years, you would have over $118,985! The best part is that this doesn't even factor in the home equity you could expect to gain over that time frame. 

While this strategy would only represent a small portion of your retirement planning, it will definitely help. It could also be applied to the idea of saving for your childrens' college, and we will address that in the coming weeks. Think about taking advantage of the rent vs. buy disparity and save money for the long term. 

2957 Raking Leaf Drive, Abingdon, MD 21009

Sunday, January 12, 2014

What Have You Done?

Isn't this the first question we ask someone in the business world we don't know? "What have you done, and where have you done it?" If their answer is insufficient, you will probably reject them without further consideration.

Why do we do this? Mostly because we assume that past success is a predictor of the future. This applies well to the real estate field, where the number of transactions one does measures their worth. An important factor to this is that the details don't matter; if your father was a successful developer, and you his assistant, you will be credited with being a real estate magician. No questions asked.

Another reason for the tendency to rely on past "success" is that it's a quick filter. Are you a hiring executive, combing through resumes in search of the right fit? If so, I can imagine that in the job description, listed first is the amount of experience that is required for the given field. If an applicant does not meet your stringent criteria, their resume will be banished from the pile and burned, never to be seen again.

Just recently, when the 2013-14 NFL regular season came to an end, a number of head coaches were fired immediately on the day now known as "Black Monday." This is done for a variety of reasons, ranging from the lack of the teams' success to the organization would like to start over. The Cleveland Browns fired their coach after only one season, citing their own mistake for having hired him in the first place.

While Cleveland hasn't hired a replacement yet, other teams began to hire as quickly as possible, mostly because of the amount of work required between now and next season. The Washington Redskins hired Cincinatti Bengals' former offensive coordinator Jay Gruden as soon as the Bengals were eliminated from the playoffs. The Bengals won their division, but despite the home field advantage, they grossly underachieved in the playoffs.

The Houston Texans fired head coach Gary Kubiak after a disastrous season, and then appointed former Penn. St. head coach Bill O'Brien. What is the premise for the belief that Bill O'Brien can succeed in this position? He took over a program at Penn. St. that had more stigma than Alex Rodriguez, but somehow, had two winning seasons while being heavily sanctioned.

So is past success always a predictor of future success? Definitely not. We need to look beyond the surface to determine whether or not someone is right for the job. I am not saying that either of these coaches doesn't deserve their positions, but I wonder how many candidates didn't make it past the initial sniff test?

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The State of Aberdeen Office

Aberdeen Office Space: Brief Overview

The leasing of office space in Aberdeen, MD has primarily been linked to contractor opportunities on the Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG). This activity has dropped considerably over the past three years, primarily because of sharp cuts to Government spending, and Congress's failure to develop a new budget. With the new bipartisan budget that was signed by President Obama on December 18th, 2013, we may start to see an influx of the contractors that were expected during the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC). While Congress is still negotiating over the debt ceiling, the fact that they did something is a plus!

Aberdeen Office Space Statistics

The following statistics are based on a Costar search through analytics performed on December 28th, 2013. Leasing activity dropped to less than 30,000 square feet during the year from a peak in 2010. The vacancy rate has risen since then, now at close to 40%, but asking rents have continued to climb. While the fact that asking rents have continued to climb despite the high vacancies, it just shows that landlords and managers are not getting the interest that might encourage a price drop. When interest starts to increase, asking rents may drop to entice potential tenants. Eventually they will reach agreement and start signing new leases, thereby reducing the vacancy rate. 

Aberdeen Office Asking Rents

Aberdeen Office Lease Activity

Aberdeen Office Vacancies