Real Estate Marketing Specialists

Category Archives: Seller Information

Information pertinent to Frederick home sellers.

Yet Even MORE B.S. Facts About Real Estate that Just Won’t Die!

Yet Even MORE B.S. Facts About Real Estate that Just Won’t Die!

🤥B.S. Facts About Real Estate That AREN’T TRUE!

So here’s how something can be a “fact”, but it’s not true:  In the age of internet “wisdom”, if something gets enough play on the internet, it grows legs. It sometimes grows arms and a head too. It ends up being true in many people’s minds. But the problem is…too often, it’s all B.S. Yep. I said it. BS Facts abound on the world-wide-web. Here are the first myths I came up with a little while ago: 15 B.S. Facts about Homebuying that People think are True. Let’s debunk some more myths about real estate.

There are three big reasons why real estate myths seem to never die:

A. Old news lasts a long time on the internet. The problem is that any local real estate market can change on a dime. The truth is, real estate market trends are always in transition, no matter where they are.

B. As well as market changes, its also true that markets are very local. All Real Estate is Local. What is fact in one market may not be in another.

C. Probably the biggest lie on the internet, about any news or any industry for that matter, is the myth about social proof. “If enough people are saying it, it must be true!” 🙄 In the days of clickbait and shock talk, we should all be naturally suspicious of the popularity of any statement.

💩Let’s dig in to a Dozen more B.S. Facts…

and debunk them with a little help from my friends: 

🤔BS Fact #1:  “Home values are on the rise, it’s the perfect time for us to push the market and price our home higher.”

In many markets around the country the inventory is low, but the demand is still strong. The age-old law of supply and demand comes into play in these markets…home values are on the rise. We typically refer to this as a “seller’s market”.

Some home sellers interpret a seller’s market to mean that they can ask whatever they think their home is worth, pushing their price higher to meet what they hope will be a future value. The problem is, this tactic rarely works. It usually backfires.

Most home buyers today are working with a buyer’s agent. A buyer’s agent has a fiduciary responsibility with their buyer-client, and is looking out for their best interest. One of the things that they will certainly do is ensure that their client NOT overpay for a home. They will be researching the current market value of any home their buyer is interested in making an offer on.

  • 💡As Eileen Anderson, Realtor® and blogger in Simsbury Connecticut points out, “Even if buyers insist on moving forward with the purchase, unless they are a cash buyer, you run the risk of the home not appraising and the buyer not being able to obtain a mortgage.” Be sure to read her article “Top 7 Myths about Home Pricing” for more tips.

🤪BS Fact #2:  “It’s a seller’s market, I don’t need to do any prep on my home.”

A seller’s market can be punctuated by a low inventory of homes. Some seller’s might interpret that to mean buyers will have fewer choices so they will “have to take what’s available”. So why bother preparing their home for the market. Like overpricing, this logic usually backfires too!

Today’s home buyers are savvy! As much as 95 percent of home buyers are looking on the internet for their next home. They are looking at home values, watching home videos, taking 3-D tours of listings…they have more tools at their fingertips than ever to make wise decisions regarding their home purchase.

The truth is, most buyers today want move-in ready value if they are going to pay top dollar. It doesn’t matter if it’s a tight inventory, when a home needs repairs or updates, the price reductions start ticking off in the minds of today’s buyers.

  • 💡In his own myth-busting article for home sellers, Xavier DeBuck, Johannesburg real estate agent, points out that by getting a home move-in ready before marketing it, the seller wins by increasing the pool of interested buyers. Not only that, you strengthen your negotiating position. Read the rest of his helpful seller tips: 15 Home Selling Myths You Need to Stop Believing.

Back to the Top

😕BS Fact #3:  “My home is worth more than the comparable homes because of all the renovations I did.”

While it is true that the best way to get top dollar is to keep your home maintained and up-to-date throughout the time you own it, it isn’t true that everything you do will bring a good return on investment. Some upgrades and renovations bring a good ROI, others don’t. There are two mistakes that you can make: under-improving and over-improving. But of the two, you cannot recover from over-improving…you just have to take your lumps!

All houses are different and all neighborhoods have different standards. Local market trends can change over the years. Like most things in real estate, there’s no rule about home improvements…except the rule that says, “it depends”.

BS Facts about real estateBefore we even talk about which improvements add value and which don’t, there is an important overall consideration: Who is your most likely buyer? If your home is in an active adult community, buyer expectations are a lot different than they would be if your home was in a neighborhood with starter homes, or a townhouse or condo development.

To make sure you are doing the best updates and renovations possible, it’s not only important to know the expectations of your ideal buyer, it is crucial to research comparative. If the standard in your comparative market is granite counters and stainless-steel appliances, then your home will pale in comparison if you’re still living with laminate and mismatched bottom-of-the line appliances. The opposite can also be true, if the standard is laminate, then spending top dollar in the kitchen would be a waste of money.

The best resource is a local experienced Realtor®. Trust me, we love it when we get a call from a homeowner asking us for advice on what to update and what not to worry about. Even if they aren’t planning to sell in the near future, that’s ok. We know that making the smart improvements will make it easier to sell for the best price in the shortest amount of time. We’re happy to help.

  • 💡Xavier De Buck, Johannesburg Luxury real estate agent, has 15 myths sellers should believe. Among his many good tips for home sellers, he points out that according to Remodeling Magazine’s Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report, the average improvement only recoups of 64% of the cost of the renovations! So be careful about those big sweeping ideas that you get after watching one of those HGTV shows!


😩BS Fact #4:  “My house isn’t selling because my Realtor® hasn’t done enough open houses!”

I know that Just about every HGTV show ends with a grand open house, where all the magic happens. But, that is T.V. Real life is different. Open houses don’t usually sell homes. Statistics don’t lie. Historically, the number of homes that sold because of the open house is less than 4%.

The vast majority of homes are sold because of a cooperating agent seeing the home on the local MLS, or Multiple List Service. The next largest number is from buyers who saw the home on the internet (on any one of dozens of real estate websites) and told their buyer’s agent about it. Open can be a good opportunity to get feedback, both from buyers and from other real estate agents, but they generally don’t sell a home.

They do, however, serve another purpose. Watch my friend Kristina Smallhorn, from Ascension Parrish LA, reveal the secret!

Back to the Top

😡BS Fact #5:  “That’s not what Zillow said my house is worth!”

Online Valuations are everywhere, including Zillow, Trulia, and most brokerage websites. They are increasingly used to get home owners to frequent a website. We even have one on our website, so that sellers can have a ballpark number:


But, there are limitations with ballpark numbers. I mean, a single hit that gets you to first base is in the ballpark, just like a deep left field hit that gets you a triple. But there’s a big difference between the two hits, especially if the bases are loaded!

The Trouble with Zestimates and Other Online Valuations

Firstly, these are numbers generated by an algorithm. Algorithms take in comparative data and can do a pretty good general job of finding similar values. The problem comes when there are nuances that an algorithm can’t decipher. The algorithm can’t

  • look inside the house and see any updates. It also can’t
  • know that the differences in the neighborhood two streets away are enough to take 10% off the value of the an otherwise similar home.
  • An algorithm can’t know that this house backs to the freeway, while that similar house backs to a nature preserve.
  • The algorithm can’t know that there is huge demand for this house and not that similar one, just because it’s in a different school district.

There are so many reasons why you need a Realtor® to do a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) to help you narrow down the correct price for your home, in your neighborhood, in your present market conditions. If your house is truly unique, then your Realtor® will recommend an appraisal for the most accurate pricing.

Here’s the Truth: Zillow, Trulia and are marketing websites, not owned or operated by any real estate company. They do an amazing job at marketing! However, they are not bound by the National Association of Realtors® Code of Ethics, which requires that we be truthful and accurate in all our marketing.

The other Truth: Neither Zillow, Trulia or determine the market price of a home.

  • 💡Lynn Pineda, fellow eXp Realty agent in Coral Springs Florida, points out several false notions about real estate in Top 4 Fake Real Estate Revelations. She separates fact from fiction, especially when it comes to assessing the correct value of a home. The seller doesn’t determine the price, even though he or she intimately knows the home from top to bottom. And no, the Realtor® doesn’t determine the value of a home. The local market does.

Back to the Top

👛BS Fact #6:  “A Financial Guru told my to put 20% down on a home. I don’t have that kind of money!”

This is one of the most persistent myths today. The 20% figure comes from the fact that when you put less than that percentage as a down payment on a home, you must pay an additional amount for Private Mortgage Insurance, or PMI, which is added to your monthly mortgage.

Of course it would be nice not to have that additional amount tacked on to your monthly mortgage, but we all know that saving enough cash to cover a 20% down payment is very difficult, especially for first-time buyers.

(In the Frederick real estate market the median home price is $337,000, which would require $67,000!)

This is why in America we have choices! There are a variety of loan options that allow for a low down payment. Virtually all lenders offer lots of choices for borrowers:

  1. FHA Loans (Federal Housing Administration) – available with a 3.5 percent minimum down payment.
  2. Conventional loans are available with down payments ranging from 5 percent to 15 percent. Some lenders offer special conventional loans for as little as 3 percent.
  3. There are usually a number of grants available to cover down payments for qualified borrowers. Programs are available for public servants, like fireman, teachers, medical workers and those who work in those sectors.
  4. VA Loans – Veterans and service members can purchase a home for zero down.
  5. State and local programs and rural programs are available to offer down payment assistance or other special loan options for low or moderate income borrowers.

Still having trouble saving 3.5 percent for an FHA loan down payment?

💸BS Fact #7:  “I keep hearing there’s a housing affordability crisis…how can I afford a house?!”

The news headlines are always buzzing with housing affordability woes, as well as warnings about housing bubbles. I’m convinced this is largely clickbait.

The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) calculates what is referred to as the Housing Affordability Index. This index measures whether the median household could qualify for a mortgage on a typical home using the prevailing mortgage interest rate. It uses a value of 100 to signify that a family with the median income has exactly enough to afford a median-priced home. It is calculated quarterly.

The Second Quarter 2018 Housing Affordability Index:*

  • The Median Priced for Single-Family Homes Nationally:  $269,000
  • The Prevailing Mortgage Rate: 4.70%
  • The Median Family Income:  $75,106
  • The Composite Affordability Index:  140.2 (which means the average family has 140% of the income necessary to qualify for a loan on a median-priced single-family home.

Sounds like affordability to me!

Back to the Top

😒BS Fact #8:  “I don’t need a buyer’s agent…I’ll get a better deal if I work with the listing agent.”

This BS Fact just Will. Not. Go. Away!

Here’s how the real estate selling process works:  The home seller contracts with a real estate agent to market their home. The seller and the agent agree upon a fee that the agent will charge the seller, usually a percentage of the sale price. There is no set fee in our industry because that is illegal, but each company has a policy. The listing agent then agrees to share that amount with any cooperating agents who may bring a buyer to buy the house.The BS of dual agency

That fee is an agreed-upon amount enumerated in a contract between the seller and their agent. It has nothing to do with a potential buyer.

If a listing agent contracts with a seller to lower their commission if they bring a willing and able buyer themselves, without a cooperating agent, it is required in Maryland to disclose that to all parties, potential buyers and their agents. This is called variable rate commission, and it is extremely rare. When this happens, in the majority of cases, the agent does twice the work (because there is no buyer’s agent involved) and takes the full, though reduced, commission. And the buyer, in most cases, simply lacks representation.

There is nothing in the agreement between the seller and the listing agent that signifies that a buyer to pay less for a house simply because they are not represented by another agent. That fee is for the agent to do with as they please. And lets face it, who wouldn’t keep it for doing twice the work?

Buyer Representation is Your Right…

…and it is a great benefit to a buyer, much more beneficial than the empty promise of paying less for a home when you work without a buyer’s agent. A Buyer’s Agent is an agent who works with a buyer, under contract. They have the fiduciary responsibility to represent the buyer’s interest, which includes getting their home of choice for the best price, with the best terms and conditions possible. They are their to negotiate on your behalf, so when you win, they win.

  • 💡In his article: Advice for Choosing the Best Realtor as a Buyer, Jamohl DeWald, Portland Realtor®, gives important tips. After all, it is probably the biggest financial decision most people make in their lives. Be sure to interview an agent before you choose them to represent you.

No one should go it alone in the real estate market! 😰 Get a Buyer’s Agent! Tweet That!

In many areas of the country, when the buyer is unrepresented and works with the seller’s agent, it’s called “Dual Agency“. In Maryland,  an agent cannot represent both parties ( Buyer and Seller) – it’s illegal. However, Dual Agency is permitted, but it is defined differently than in most other states. It applies to the”Broker” of the company. Dual Agency can only occur when a listing agent and a buyer’s agent, who both work for the same broker,  become involved in a single transaction together. The Broker becomes the “dual agent”. The only time a broker cannot be a dual agent is on his own listing.

Dual agency is fraught with difficulties, even if it is legal. Many agents do not practice dual agency, but avoid it for the legal jeopardy that sometimes can accompany the practice. A few thousand extra dollars is just not worth it.

  • 💡There is so much to say about Agency! Be sure to read this informative article from Bill Gassett, Metrowest MA real estate pro, Why is dual agency bad for home buyers? As Bill states,

    “Sadly, many consumers do not understand how consumer relationships work when it comes to buying and selling real estate. One of the worst relationships that can happen in some states is dual agency where a real estate agent represents both parties. Common sense tells you this is impossible, yet some states allow it. Dual Agency benefits one party – the real estate agent.”

Back to the Top

😱BS Fact #9:  “I saw some local real estate statistics…the market is Horrible!”

True Confession: I (Karen) was a Psychology major in College. (one of the most useless degrees, I know! give me a break!)
However, one required class was super helpful…it was Statistics. I barely passed, but you know what I learned? You can make a statistic say anything you want…if you spin it well. Especially if you are spinning your statistics for someone who isn’t well-acquainted with your subject.

Most of the time the statistics you find regarding the real estate market are not meaningful. They are either too broad to have any meaning to a local buyer or seller…as in the case of the national housing statistics we often see on the news, or from the National Association of Realtors®, or they are just a simple snapshot that doesn’t show the trend. It’s best to never take someone’s statistics at face value, but to ask a real estate agent to explain what they really mean.

  • 💡Seattle Real Estate agent Conor MacEvilly, has written a great piece about why several real estate articles about statistics should be recycled…immediately! I couldn’t agree more! Why Many Real Estate Market Reports are Meaningless spreads out a well-researched explanation of how statistics are misleading and what should be explained in a market report. Any meaningful market statistics require a long-range view of the housing market in a very localized analysis.
  • 💡And while we’re speaking of mis-leading real estate content, Conor has written a telling article that you’ll certainly want to read, Beware of These 5 Common Real Estate Marketing Tricks. Whether it’s the promise of incredibly low interest rates, or an agent promising to buy your home if it doesn’t sell, do yourself a favor, READ THE SMALL PRINT.

💰BS Fact #10:  “I can’t afford a house that would make my wife happy…😂

but I don’t have enough for a fixer-upper either.” 

There are often times when it’s hard to find a house you love and can afford. When the inventory of homes for sale is low, we see more bidding wars on houses that are in pristine condition and priced well for their markets. Bidding wars are not everyone’s cup of tea.

When you just can’t find your dream home at a price you can (or want to) afford, there is a solution: a renovation loan. There are two great products available from FHA:

  1. FHA limited 203(k). The borrower can borrow between $5,000 and $35,000 over the asking price to make minor repairs. The home must be the primary residence.
  2. Fannie Mae offers the Homestyle Renovation Loan, for more extensive repairs. Borrower’s can receive up to 50% of the home’s value, with up to 12 months after closing to finish repairs. This loan can be used for a vacation home or an investment property.

So, if you are facing some dismal choices in your market, you have other solutions. Find a home with good bones in a neighborhood you will love, and make it your dream home. If the home needs simple cosmetic updates, all the better!


Back to the Top

🏠BS Fact #11:  “I’m looking for a new construction home. I don’t need an agent.”

Good news…builders are building again. In Frederick Md, we’re seeing new home construction like we haven’t seen since pre-2006.

Did you know, when purchasing new home construction, buyers can have their own buyer representation? The real estate agent at the builder’s model home is the seller’s agent for the builder, representing the interests of the builder.

As a buyer, there are advantages to having your own buyer’s agent to represent your interests. Most builders, but not all, have built-in costs that cover the Realtor®’s commission.

  1. Realtors® who have experience with new construction know the questions to ask along all the phases of the build.
  2. The buyer’s agent can help you interpret and understand the contract.
  3. The agent can do a non-biased market analysis, one important and often overlooked item in new construction. Tip: Someone purchasing new construction needs to be dedicated to staying in the neighborhood for 2-4 years after the builder closes out, especially if the new buyer only puts 10% or less down.  The builder basically controls the value of the home until the neighborhood is closed out.
  4. Many things are negotiable, whether the builder offers or not. Using an experienced buyer’s agent can be a benefit in any negotiations. Agents negotiate every day as a part of their job. How often do home buyers engage in negotiations?
  5. Market conditions greatly dictate a builder’s incentive to make deals. A buyer’s agent can help you know when market conditions are right for these benefits.

🤯BS Fact #12: The Most Insidious BS Fact of Our Time –  “Guess what Mom!? I’m going to make a ton of money flipping houses!!”

BS Facts about real estateWarning: I may step on some toes.

Have you seen the incredible number of house-flipping seminars taking place all over the country?? Some of them charge hundreds of dollars to attend. Then they charge thousands for their “proprietary software” and “proven systems” for making a killing flipping houses. Do the math people…the only ones making money are the shiesters in front of the room, taking your money. Many of these “get-rich-quick” house-flipping seminars are nothing but a scam.

Here’s what they don’t tell you: When the inventory is tight like it is in many areas across the country, finding a home that makes a perfect flip is hard. Ten years ago, when we had a glut of foreclosures, it was a different story.

You’ll also find it’s not so easy getting financed. But a hard money lender will be happy to finance your flip…for about 30% interest rates!

Flipping is difficult, but I didn’t say it was impossible. It certainly isn’t a “get-rich-quick” scheme. If you want to make money flipping houses, do your research and go in with your eyes wide open.

📚Related Articles:

  • 💡Greater Metrowest Massachusetts real estate pro Bill Gassett has written an informative article for buyers and sellers:  Pros and Cons of We Buy Houses Flipping Companies, which pulls back the curtain on those house-flipping scams. As Bill points out, speak to a local Realtor® before you consider one of those “We Buy Houses” companies. They are more than happy to help themselves to your equity!
  • 💡If you are serious about making house flipping your new gig, be sure to read this article by fellow eXp Realty agent John Cunningham: How to Build Your Own House Flipping Team. “The team that you put together is everything. Build the right team and enjoy success. Build the wrong team and you will not be able to get out of the flipping business fast enough.”

Thanks for making it all the way through the post!

Thanks for helping us combat the B.S. About Real Estate, one Tweet at a time! tweet that!

Back to the Top


Please consider sharing this article on social media if you found it useful:

Tweet: Combating The BS About #realestate, One Tweet At A Time!


social share's are appreciated


Search for Homes in Central Maryland

Do you live in another area and need a real estate agent? We’ll be happy to refer a top-notch agent! 

Yet Even MORE B.S. Facts About Real Estate that Just Won’t Die! was penned by Chris and Karen Highland, eXp Realty, LLC, Central Maryland Realtors®. And we had a blast dispelling real estate myths! Contact us for any real estate need. 301-401-5119.

B.S. about real estate not true

Pin for Later Reading

*Copyright NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.

Are Home Values Going Up or Down In Frederick Md?

Are Home Values Going Up or Down In Frederick Md?


A frequent question we get: Are home prices going up or down in Frederick Md? Every home owner is interested in knowing, and every potential home buyer is also wondering what the real estate market is doing. Although we can’t predict the future, we can analyze the trends and see what’s been happening to home values over the last few years.

We are often asked where we think home prices are headed over the next year. Recently, several national groups have published reports and given their predictions about the level of appreciation we can expect by the end of 2018 and into 2019.

Here is what they said:

  • USA Today Economist:  5.7% appreciation by the end of 2018
  • Urban Land Institute:  Survey respondents expect home prices to rise an average of 5.3 % in 2018 and 4.3 % in 2019, both above the 20-year average annual growth rate of 4.0 percent.
  • Home Price Expectation Survey:  4.1% in 2018
  • Clear Capital:  Looking back, Year-over-year gains from mid-year 2017 to mid-year 2018 was 7%.
  • Forbes:  Home price appreciation will slow to 2% over 2018

All five publishers are calling for home values to rise through the end of this year. The projections are that the increases will slow compared to the last five years. However, no one projected the increases that we’ve seen in previous years, as far back as 2013.

But any news with a + sign is good news to Frederick home owners. As you know, all real estate is local. National statistics don’t always show what is happening locally.

What about the market in Frederick Real Estate?

Much of the outlook depends on the simple formula of supply and demand. The inventory of homes on the market in Frederick Md continues to be low, although we’ve seen about 8 – 10% increase over last year. Right now there are about 1020 homes on the market and 737 are in process of selling (pending). A normal inventory for Frederick County is about 1200.

It’s Mid-Year 2018. So far in 2018, we’ve seen an average increase in:

  • average home price has increased 6.01% since the beginning of the year. ($331,581)
  • The median sale price increased 7.45% on average. ($308,500)
  • The Days on Market, or the time it took to sell a home decreased an average of 13.82% since January. 54 days on average.
  • The number of homes that sold was very close to last year, so far 1% fewer homes sold. 2133, compared to 2156 first half of last year.

What Can We Expect for 2019?

the future of home valuesOf course, we don’t claim to be Zoltar, but we can safely project more increases. We expect:

  • Steady demand throughout the remainder of this year,
  • More homeowners putting their homes on the market as they see appreciation, although the inventory is still low, which contributes to price growth.
  • Increased demand next year as new households are formed, a result of economic growth (4.1% GDC in the second quarter 2018!)
  • More move-up buyers.
  • A Healthy, steady market over-all. 6.01 is a healthy growth number.

A Note About Real Estate Bubbles

All major news outlets like to wring their hands about real estate bubbles since the Great Recession of ’08. While it makes great headlines, most real estate experts don’t have the same fears. All of the aspects which attributed to the last real estate meltdown are not in play anymore.

  • Credit has tightened up, it’s difficult to get a mortgage without decent credit
  • Loan programs have changed from the dangerous, easy-access types of loans that were available before the crash
  • Home prices have increased, but should be much higher based on inflation
  • Foreclosures are very low (76,480) compared to the height of the crash in 2009 (566,180) [According to this CMED Report]
  • Housing is still affordable, in spite of what you read in the headlines.

“The main reason the typical mortgage payment remains well below record levels in most of the country is that the average mortgage rate back in June 2006, when the U.S. typical mortgage payment peaked, was about 6.7 percent, compared with an average mortgage rate of about 4.4 percent in March 2018.” Core Logic Report


Real Estate Sales Are Seasonal

During the winter months, many home sellers take their homes off the market for the holidays. The market slows down a little, but there have been months and years when the market activity defied the usual market…you never know.

We expect to see a steady market throughout the fall and winter, although not as active as the spring and summer. How much? A healthy number. There is pent-up demand among buyers who have been waiting for the economy to improve. There is pent-up demand among sellers who have been underwater on their mortgages. As home prices improve gradually, more sellers will enter the market.

If you have been waiting for the improving market to sell your home, this may be the year for you. Contact us for a free market analysis of your home.

Find Out What Your Home May Be Worth (takes 15 seconds)

Search for homes for sale in Central Maryland

Need A Real Estate Agent in Your City? We Can Refer a Great Agent!

Outdoor Rooms Add Living Space and Value – How to Get it Right

Outdoor Rooms Add Living Space and Value – How to Get it Right

😊Outdoor Rooms Add Living Space…Do They Add Value?

Outdoor living is important to today’s homeowners, no matter the climate they call home. Creating an inviting outdoor room is a great way to maximize living space, and add to the enjoyment of your home. Additionally, home buyers will appreciate the space when it’s time to sell your home. Outdoor rooms add value to a home, when done well. Although they may or may not add value in the eyes of an appraiser, they certainly do in the eyes of a potential home buyer!

🏡Decks and Patios Add Valuable Outdoor Living Room

Today’s buyers are looking for homes that maximize living space in a smaller, but smarter home. Buyers are looking for ample storage as well as livable floor plans. Outdoor rooms add living space without adding to the square footage, or the expense of an addition to the home. They are a “bonus” room that doesn’t need to be heated or cooled, and they don’t have to break the budget.

Fire Pit traditional-patio

If you are looking to maximize the appeal of your home before you sell, you might consider the addition of a deck or patio ( or a she-shed 🙂  If you already have a deck or patio, you can spruce it up easily, adding that outdoor appeal for today’s buyers.

📝Planning  Outdoor Rooms and Spaces To Add Value

A properly planned deck or patio can add functionality as well as beauty to a home’s design. Equally important, it can expand the living area with the addition of charming and usable outdoor living spaces.

The first step to creating a deck is finding the perfect design to compliment the exterior of the home and meet the desired outdoor lifestyle of the homeowners. Large home supply stores have design software accessible on their websites allowing homeowners to create and print a customized 3-D deck design. Designs and materials can be changed with a click, and do-overs are definitely allowed.

Try Lowes, or Home Depot, for a start. Both sites have how-to videos and idea books to get started. Tip: Type into the search box, “design a deck” and you’ll get lots of great results.

Spending time envisioning the deck before putting pen to paper or mouse to hand will help. Ideas are everywhere — readily available in magazines and on-line. Houzz is a great website where you can find ideas, beautiful photos, products, and professionals in many home-related industries. You can open a free account, start saving ideas and plans to your “idea books” and do some great planning and dreaming. As you are envisioning your perfect outdoor room:

Some questions to consider include:

  • what will the deck be used for
  • how often will it be used
  • who will use it
  • and what time of the day or night will it be used

🤔Smart Deck and Patio Design will add Value

With these ideas in mind, a homeowner can create a variety of areas on and around the deck or patio for different uses, including food prep, eating, relaxing and entertaining. If a pool or hot tub is also part of the design, other issues will need to be addressed such as electrical supply, privacy and adequate safety measures.

Outdoor Rooms
Contemporary Patio design by San Francisco Architect Koch Architects, Inc. Joanne Koch

The location of the deck will be determined by the available yard space, accessibility to and from the home, and showcasing the best views. Enclosing part of the deck with a roof can make the use of the deck more flexible and can act as a transition from the home to the outside. You also may appreciate the weather resistance of a partially covered deck, adding areas to bring fabrics and other decor items that don’t survive the elements easily. Not only do outdoor rooms add living space, they can add warmth and beauty to a plain old boring yard.

Back to the Top

Outdoor rooms
Contemporary Patio design by Tel Aviv Photographer Yaniv Schwartz – Photographer

👷Building Permits – Do a Proper Job

Getting a building permit is a must! When it’s time to sell the home, you don’t want any problems popping up because of unpermitted work done on the house. And it will pop up.

You also want to get a permit to make sure that your work is properly done. The location of the deck may also be dictated by local building and zoning ordinances. These ordinances will have guidance regarding the size and placement of the deck, height of privacy screens and the distance needed from property lines.

Home Owners Associations may have restrictions or guidelines on anything that is considered an outdoor room. A call to the utility company to check on the location of buried pipes and utility lines can prevent any loss of service, as well as save time, expense and trouble later.

Some of the requirements listed in building codes for an above-ground deck include the distance between support posts – usually no more than 6 feet apart, and distance between railing spaces – usually no larger than 4 inches apart.

Back to the Top

Outdoor rooms
Modern Exterior design by Chicago Architect Becker Architects Limited

The height, design and spacing of the railings is important, because they are the most repeated and most prominent visual element on the deck. Railings may be adhered to posts that are placed in the ground or attached to the decking itself. Material choices are many and include wood, metal, heavy cording or rope, stone or other building material, as long as code requirements are met.

😭Design Without Regrets

One of the complaints most often heard after a deck is built is that “we should have made it bigger.” To make sure to get it right, stake the layout into the yard and tie string between the stakes at the height of the railing. Grouping lawn furniture in various areas can simulate the ways the deck might be used. This added planning step can help you visualize the results.

On the other hand, a deck that dwarfs a home will be awkward. To get the most out of the available space, multiple levels can add extra space without over-taking the home.

Making a deck blend in with a home’s decor can be done by incorporating and repeating design elements from the home. Paint the trim and posts in a similar or complementary shade. Turning a deck into an extension of the house is a great way to create an outdoor room with a comfortable vibe.

Back to the Top

Built-in benches, tables and planters add a feeling of stability and permanence to the deck and create the tie between deck and the landscape. Flowers, potted ornamental trees and other deck accessories can create a seamless transition between the deck itself and the natural surroundings. Homeowners with small lots are even finding space to grow herb and vegetable gardens. Outdoor rooms add living space for green thumbs to enjoy the product of their labor.

For more great ideas to increase the usability of your outdoor spaces, check out our Pinterest board, Outdoor Rooms


🌻Easy Projects to Add Outdoor Value and Living Space

Add a fire pit with surrounding seating for an inviting gathering area for family and friends. A fire pit will extend the season, making your back yard more usable for a longer time. Adding attractive seating around the pit will be a natural draw for family and friends to sit and relax.

You can buy a fire ready made fire pit in so may fun and decorative styles today, in many sizes, for a reasonable amount. You can also build your own quite easily. Here’s a short video from This Old House that shows just how easy it is:

Safety Tip: Your fire pit should be at least 10 feet away from your house or any combustible surface. Before you commit, make sure you check with any homeowners association documents or city ordinances.

Looking for inspiration for your backyard? Check out our Pinterest Board, Backyard Bliss:

Back to the Top


⛲Water Features Add Beauty

Adding a water feature to your yard adds beauty and ambiance, but it can also serve a practical function: to mask street noises, or noisy neighbors. You can add a simple DIY pond or bubbling fountain, or you can get as complicated and expensive as you like. (Just don’t over-improve if you want to get a good return on your investment.)

A water feature can be a koi pond, with rocks and foliage that make it appear like a natural occurrence, or it can be hardscaped to fit in with existing features. Whatever your design sense, make sure it is in keeping with the style and size of your home.

If you’re considering a pond, check with your local town or county about ordinances that may affect what you build. If you live in a community with a homeowners association, be sure to check the rules.

The simplest water feature you can create is a recirculating fountain. That can be anything from a popular bubbling vase, to a core-drilled boulder, to a formal fountain. In all of these water features, water collects in a basin at the bottom where a small pump sits, and is pumped back up to the top. These types of water features are generally the most economical choice for adding some kind of water feature to the backyard.

Here’s a simple DIY video about adding a simple water feature:

Back to the Top

🌺Beautiful and Functional Additions that Add Value

Build a Pergola. A pergola is an airy structure, usually wood, that creates definition for an outdoor room, without closing it off. You can determine how much shade you want by growing climbing vines, like wisteria, by adding a sail or screen to the top, or by slanting the wooden beams along the top. Pergolas can be added to a patio or a deck, or they can be freestanding out in the yard. They can be custom-built or kits, or even purchased ready-made. Here’s a handy buying guide:

Add a Gazebo. If your home and yard will be enhanced, a gazebo might be a great addition. Gazebos usually cost a bit more than pergolas and are a little more elaborate, with a roof. Gazebos can be rustic or polished, depending on the style of your house. They can also be screened in, which makes for a pleasant experience if you want to escape the bugs.

💰Hardscapes Add Permanent Value

Adding hardscapes to your outdoor spaces can be a beautiful addition to your yard, both front and back. As hardscapes are more expensive and more permanent than other enhancements, you’ll want to do a lot of planning, maybe even hire a professional, depending on how complicated you get. A design expert can help you keep in line with the overall look and style of your home and yard. You don’t want to find yourself at the end of a long expensive project and discover you’ve overdone it, or worse, created something that doesn’t add value to your property.

Hardscaping can be as simple as adding a stone or brick walkway, to an elaborate patio with built-in features. Whatever you choose, make sure it is in keeping with your home’s style and your lot size. Hardscapes are an area where it is easy to “over-do it”, which will obliterate any hope for a decent return on investment.

Get design inspiration and DIY tips on our Pinterest Board: Hardscaping to Add Value to Your Home:


*          *          *          *          *

Additional Reading:

Do you live in another area and need a real estate agent? We’ll be happy to refer a top-notch agent! 

Thanks to David Goldberg for an informative guest post!

 Back to the Top

David Goldberg –  Home Inspector

phone: 301-913-9213 
Reliable Home Services, Inc.
PO Box 5159
Laytonsville, MD 20882
ASHI Member #101584
MD License #29322

*          *          *          *          *
If You have a remodeling project in mind, contact us for a list of professionals we’re proud to recommend.

Find out What Your Central Maryland Home is Worth

Pin it for Later Reading:

Add value with outdoor living rooms


How to Negotiate Multiple Offers On Your House

How to Negotiate Multiple Offers On Your House

🤼What Happens When You Get Multiple Offers on Your House?

In the real estate market today, homes that are priced well and in the best condition often get multiple offers. Often in the first few days they’re for sale. It’s a seller’s market in Frederick Maryland. How can a seller best negotiate with multiple offers on their home? How can a buyer negotiate to win when there are multiple offers? Here are 15 tips:

The real estate market transitions from a buyer’s market to a seller’s market often over the years, depending on local economic trends. In Frederick, we’ve transitioned to a seller’s market over the last few years. The lack of inventory and the healthy demand has created an environment where we’re seeing a good number of multiple offers in the Frederick real estate market. Homes that are in great condition and that are well-priced for the market are in demand. In certain price ranges, those high demand homes are getting multiple offers. Here are some tips to negotiate when you have multiple offers on a house:

🏡Local Frederick Market Conditions

While first time home buyers are entering the market, and the first tier of move-up buyers are seeking homes, homes in these price ranges are in high demand. Buyers should expect the possibility of facing a multiple offer scenario. There is a portion of the market that is seeing a longer time on market for the lack of demand: the price ranges above $600,000. In certain neighborhoods in the smaller, outlying cities in Frederick County, the market is also slower.

But I need to mention a caveat…some neighborhoods are experiencing a different trend. Urbana real estate is selling in the higher price ranges than the rest of the county. Understanding your local market is important to establish correct expectations, which will make a huge impact on your negotiating strategy.

When we talk about real estate markets, buyers and sellers need to be aware that there is no such thing as a “National Real Estate Market.” Although much of the news talks about national trends, those statistics don’t reflect what is going on in your own local area. All real estate is local.

Back to the Top

🙋Tips for Buyers in a Multiple Offer Scenario

A few years ago, if a buyer missed out on a home, they could just wait for another comparable home to come on the market soon afterward. In today’s market, they can’t count on that happening. With the lack of inventory, if a buyer misses out, they can’t be so sure a similar home will appear any time soon.

Although interest rates are still low, home prices are starting to rise. Buyers will want to take advantage of these low rates instead of waiting. To win out in a multiple-offer scenario:

  • Taking the time up front to get qualified by your lender is great advice in a hot seller’s market. When you submit an offer, the fact that you have been qualified, rather than just “checked-out” by a lender will add weight to your offer. It certainly increase the seller’s confidence in your ability to follow through on a contract.
  • When you see a home that you like, don’t wait too long to see it. You have to be flexible and make time to see a house as soon as possible. Unfortunately, we’ve had many situations where our buyers scheduled showings a week out, only to find the home was under contract before they got a chance to even tour it. Even though some people prefer to take their time and not be pushed, they find that they often miss out in a bustling seller’s market.
  • When you find the home that you want to buy, make an offer. Don’t hesitate to pull the trigger. You want to be the first offer. In doing so, you just might get the home. So you really need to know your mind.
  • Buyers should strongly consider offering more in a competitive situation, rather than insisting that they get a deal. The days of getting deals are behind us, especially in a high-demand market. Your insistence on getting a bargain will most likely leave you out in the cold.
  • If you find that you are in a competitive situation, you may get the chance to change your offer if a seller asks for the “highest and best”. You may want to increase your offer, or you may want to edit your contingencies, or increase your deposit, or a combination of all of these. It really depends on the situation. This is not the time to equivocate if you really want the house.

    Back to the Top

    😢Don’t Over Negotiate

    how to handle multiple offers in real estate

  • Your buyer’s agent should be a good source of advice in a multiple-offer situation. Be sure to choose an agent who knows the neighborhoods, the values and the current market trends. Negotiation should be one of your agent’s strongest skills. Understand that your buyer’s agent’s advice is based on past experience and is not a guarantee of any particular outcome.
  • Be flexible on your timing. If the seller needs time to find their next home, your offer will be favorable if you give them that time. If, on the other hand, the seller needs to move quickly, make sure you move as quickly as you can. This is another great reason to take the steps necessary to be qualified with your lender before you make an offer.
  • If possible, get to know your seller’s motivation. A good buyer’s agent will work with the sellers agent to figure out how to create a win-win scenario for all parties. When negotiating with a motivated seller, it helps to find out what they desire most, and work that into the negotiation.
  • If you are selling your home and buying…it may be scary, but in a competitive offer situation, you will most likely need to have your home already sold. You will be in competition with other buyers, many of whom may not have a home to sell. Plan to put your best foot forward. Anticipate the competition and make your best plan. See more tips: Advice for Buyer’s When the Real Estate Market is HOT!

Back to the Top

🤔Tips for Sellers in a Multiple Offer Scenario

Although it is a seller’s market here in Frederick Md, as in more and more areas of the country, sellers can’t assume that they can get an unreasonable amount for their home. Read more about a buyer’s or seller’s market. Even if there are multiple offers, there is a limiting factor to those escalating offers. The house must appraise for the amount it sells for. The appraisal is sometimes referred to as “The Second Sale.

The appraisal is based on the most recent sales, usually 3 to 6 months, so those sales are likely going to be less than yours in an appreciating market. Although appraisals can ‘stretch’ to higher values, so-to-speak, to expect a price that is a large leap from the previously sold homes is unrealistic.

✔️✔️✔️Many Negotiating Points

When a seller considers all offers, they’ll want to consider more than just price. Although of course the ideal scenario would be to get the highest price, there are other issues to think about. Your negotiating strategy will need to be reviewed with each potential buyer. Other important considerations are:

  • The buyer’s down payment. Sometimes a higher down-payment signals a more serious buyer.
  • The buyer’s contingencies. If you have multiple buyers, you should compare the details of the contingencies. Time frames, inspections, and other negotiating items should be considered. If you find something you can negotiate with, while the other items are agreeable to you, you may have a better chance at a win-win.
  • The buyer’s financing situation. Your agent should be able to fairly vet their financing, including the lender and the loan program. We have had situations where we advised sellers to choose one offer over another based on the veracity of the buyer’s financing, as well as the reputation of their lender.
  • The buyer’s need for closing cost assistance. Many first-time buyers may not have the cash to cover all the requisite closing costs. You may find that the buyer who doesn’t need any assistance may be your best offer. You also may get an offer higher than your price to cover the extra needed for closing cost assistance. Both are worth consideration.
  • The buyer’s ability to deal with the situation of an appraisal that comes in low. It can and does happen in an appreciating market. If you want to try to get the highest price possible, make sure you know the risks of not getting an appraisal to corroborate that high price, and make a plan with your agent to deal with that scenario.
  • As with a buyer’s agent, your listing agent has advice for you based on their past experience and can’t guarantee a particular outcome. The real estate transaction has many moving parts. Additionally, every buyer has their own set of goals, values and personalities, making each situation somewhat unique.

Back to the Top

😃A Realtors® Experience Matters

Whether a buyer or a seller, you should expect fair and honest treatment throughout the offer and negotiation process, coupled with prompt, ongoing and open communication. Always remember to keep your eye on the goal: buying or selling your home. No real estate transaction will ever be perfect. Remember not to let emotions rule and you’ll have the best chances of a win-win.

Make sure your Realtor® has experience in transitioning real estate markets, or if they are new to the industry, that they work on a team with other seasoned agents. A skilled, local real estate agent can help you tremendously as you navigate any market, whether a buyer’s or seller’s market, or a transitional market.

😅Best and Last Tip: Keep a Cool Head in Negotiations

Buying and selling a home is a process that includes emotions. Sometimes negotiations can make people tense. Although the real estate transaction is a financial process for both parties, it is also an emotional process.

Sellers: Detach from your nest. Remember this is an asset consisting of bricks and sticks.

Buyers: Even though you’ve fallen in love with the house and envision your future there, keep it under wraps! The dream won’t come true unless you make it to the finish line.

Contact the Highland’s for real estate representation in a seller’s market. 301-401-5119.

Search for Homes in Central Maryland

Need A Real Estate Agent in Your City? We Can Refer a Great Agent!

Find Out What Your Home May Be Worth (takes 15 seconds)

Contact us to help you negotiate your Frederick Home purchase.

Chris & Karen Highland
eXp Realty – 301-301-5119

Back to the Top

Home Improvements Sellers Should Avoid

Home Improvements Sellers Should Avoid

Savvy home sellers are aware that they need to present their home in it’s absolutely best condition to get top dollar. This holds true for any real estate market, whether it’s a buyer’s market or a seller’s market. Sellers often ask us which improvements to tackle first. Equally important – There are some home improvements sellers to avoid when selling a house. Which home improvements don’t bring the return on investment as well as others?

As far as the most important updates, focus on Kitchens and Baths. They are what often sells a home. A typical buyer will go for the home with an updated kitchen and updated bathrooms, because those rooms are more expensive to renovate.

But, when making improvements, a home owner can go overboard. There are improvements that cost a lot of money but won’t necessarily increase your home’s value. Here are three home improvements sellers should avoid:

🌿1. Avoid Overdoing Your Landscaping

Those gorgeous stone hardscapes look fantastic on Pinterest! They certainly give a home superb curb appeal. Landscaping always increases the appeal of a home, but the return on investment is another calculation. Hardscaping can be significantly more expensive than landscaping, so choose wisely. You’ll want to keep it at a minimum if you are going to put your home up for sale in the near future.

Inexpensive plantings will do the trick just as well as expensive ones. If a dead or overgrown shrub or tree needs to come out, replace it with something that is low maintenance and native to your area. Sometimes a pop of color is all that’s needed, and whatever you have planted just needs to be kept trim and neat.

Don't overdo your landscaping


Best rules of landscaping: Cut, Color and Fill. Many landscape designers will advise a home seller to simply do some judicious pruning to get the best return on investment. Too much unruly greenery can look like disrepair, and shrubs that are overgrown to the point that windows are obscured or branches are hanging in walkways can visually ‘eat the house’.

💐A Fresh Look Goes a Long Way

Very often a fresh layer of mulch is the only finishing touch landscaping needs. Tired dull mulch will detract from all the work you’ve done. Like many small improvements around your house and yard, a simple fresh look can send the message that you really care about your house, which implies the same meaning for large items as well.

When considering your landscaping, make sure that it compliments your home rather than competes with it. There is no need for fancy formal gardens if you live in a contemporary home. Most would-be homeowners will want to “inherit” a yard that is attractive, yet easy to care for.

If you’re short on space, simple additions will give you the most bang for your buck. A fresh coat of paint on the front door and a few planters of colorful flowers will do wonders and won’t break the bank. Be sure to bring some of those fresh flowers inside to add life to your staging.

Related Reading: Elbow Grease is the Secret to Great Curb Appeal

Back to the Top

🏰2.  Avoid Overdoing Upgrades

If after cleaning, you determine that carpet needs to be replaced, get a mid-grade neutral shade. It will look great, and will meet wear expectations. Buying the top grade will be a waste of money, especially if the buyer decides to replace it anyway!

If the wood floors are dull or worn, try a good cleaning, buffing and new finish. If they still look worn they might require a refinishing. Replacing flooring should be a very last resort.

Minor rooms like laundry rooms or powder rooms don’t need expensive flooring. Some laminates look just as good as hardwoods, but for much less.

If you need to replace appliances, again, look for middle of the line appliances. Don’t get anything expensive or too stylized. In most cases, stainless steel appliances are still most popular, but you can find very affordable appliance packages in stainless steel. If you home warrants a different style, then be sure to keep with the style of your home.

Do you bathrooms need an upgrade? Most box stores have very affordable and stylish choices for vanities, sinks and faucets. Make sure to choose things that go with the overall style of your home. Be careful not to go to trendy. Sometimes we find that trendy items, like sinks, don’t appeal to a wide range of people.

Light fixtures are often an item that needs to be upgraded. You can find lots of moderately priced solutions that look contemporary and compliment the other decor in your home. Getting rid of old brass fixtures is one of the best things you can do with a great return on your investment. While you’re at it, add brighter light bulbs to all your fixtures. This is the most effective, yet inexpensive things you can do. Light up your space! Buyers will love it.

Related Reading: Small Home Improvements That Make a Big Impact

Back to the Top

3.  Avoid Over-Doing Rooms

If you make over a room for a very specific purpose – like a home office or a library – make your improvements as non-permanent as possible. That way a buyer will be able to easily convert the room back to the original purpose. If they are faced with too much work, they might just give your home a pass.

This also goes for rooms with too much…

Too much color, too much wall paper, too much clutter, too much personality…

home improvements to avoid
Dining Room by Miami Beach Interior Designers & Decorators BROWN DAVIS INTERIORS, INC.
                               🤣"Where are my sunglasses?!"

It’s always best to neutralize before you put your home on the market. It’s best if buyers can “see their stuff” in your space.

If you have a passion, the temptation can be strong to showcase it.. like your love for the team. Just because you are a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan doesn’t mean that your collection of memorabilia will be appreciated by buyers touring your home. You’ll probably want to pack that stuff away…especially if you’re in Redskin territory!

Avoid over-doing your spaces to accommodate your hobby. Most buyers will only see a lot of work ahead of them when they see that your laundry room has been converted to an awesome beer brewing station…even if they love beer themselves! If your dining room is being used for a craft room, covert it back to a dining room. You’re going to have to pack it all up for a move anyway.

Assume buyers have zero imagination.

⚜Avoid overdoing your decor.

This applies not just to color choices, but to dated styles. It may seem like a very personal thing that buyers can overlook, but many times we find they can’t. It’s always good advice to consider your decorating and make some changes to update the decor to something more contemporary, something that appeals to a broad set of people. A dated look can make buyers view your entire home as dated. This is why staging is an important part of getting your home ready for sale.

The best way to view it: assume that buyers have no imagination. Your staging should strongly suggest the best use of each room in your home. It should also suggest what their life could be like if they lived in YOUR home. Staging is where you get to add a little sizzle to the steak!

Related Reading: Avoid These Four Common Staging Mistakes

💰Which Improvements Give the Greatest ROI?

The answer to that question really depends on comparative homes in your market…what amenities are likely buyers for your home going to expect? What are the common features of similar homes in your area? You don’t want to overdo your renovations compared to your competition, at least if you want the best return on your investment. Neither do you want to underdo your improvements, not if you want to sell your home for top dollar.

Generally speaking, kitchens and baths should be considered first. Other than that, there are typical upgrades that will garner a better return. Most of the time, simply cleaning, repairing and making simple updates can go a long way in preparing your home for sale.

Consult a local real estate expert who has experience in your neighborhood. Consult them before you start the work, to make sure you’re investing your money, time and effort in the right places…the places that will give you the highest return on your investment.

Back to the Top

📰Additional Resources:

For more tips on Home Improvement ROI, see the Remodeling Website. This site compares average cost for 36 popular remodeling projects with the value those projects retain at resale. It covers 102 U.S. markets. Check out this year’s trends and how they compare to prior years.


Find Out What My Home is Worth (in 15 seconds!)

Search for Homes in Central Maryland

Need A Real Estate Agent in Your City? We Can Refer a Great Agent!

Chris Highland  with eXp Realty
Chris & Karen Highland      301-401-5119
eXp Realty Broker – 888-860-7369

Back to the Top

5 Keys to Getting Your Home SOLD

5 Keys to Getting Your Home SOLD

🗝Keys to Getting Your Home Sold

The advice for Frederick Md home sellers is prolific. There is no shortage of articles  online with tips for preparing, staging, pricing and marketing a home. With the volumes of information available, there are still 5 basic truths, or 5 keys to getting your home sold:

🔖1. Price Your Home Realistically

So often sellers want to try their luck at starting high and adjusting their price along the way. Pricing Your home right from the startTo a certain extent, this strategy sounds logical to a lot of people, they may think they need to price their home higher for negotiating room. The problem with this logic is that real estate is not like retail sales.

You can see by the chart on the right that pricing pricing above what the market suggests will narrow the percentage of buyers who come to see your home. These numbers are well documented over years of real estate market statistics. If you price your home 15% or more above the comparative homes in your market, you will find that you don’t get many showings. More than likely, all you will hear for the first few weeks is crickets!

  • John Cunningham, Phoenix Real Estate agent, points out several concerns that tend to get home sellers stuck. The top concern of would-be home sellers: Getting a good price when selling your home. It seems that nearly half of the homeowners in cities across the US would move if they could be assured of not leaving equity behind when they sell. The answer is to price the home accurately.

The most important key to getting your home sold is to price it correctly. The market is what determines that. As much as we would all like to get as much as possible, built in market conditions work against you when you reach too high. Here are three barriers you’ll face when you try to get more for your home than it’s really worth:

  1. The truth is, buyers are savvy. They are most likely working with a buyer’s agent who is doing a comparative market analysis, letting them know when a house is overpriced. The buyer’s agent has a fiduciary responsibility to their buyer, to look out for their best interests. And one of those interests is to “not overpay” for a home.
  2. The biggest issue is that even if a buyer happens to fall in love with your overpriced home and agree to pay your asking price, the chances are great that the home won’t appraise for the amount you want. You’ll have to renegotiate anyway, or risk losing the buyer.
  3. The first 30 days on the market are crucial. That is the time period when a home gets the most showings. If you squander that golden time by overpricing, you won’t get it back. This is especially true in a real estate market with a shortage of inventory. Buyers are aware of the lack of homes on the market and many are viewing them within the first few days, knowing that they might be sold within the first week.

🏚2. Condition

When you are trying to sell your home, you need to remember that you are in competition with all the other homes in your area, price range, size and style of home. You will make out much better if your home is in the best condition it can be, repairs are done and it’s staged and clutter-free.

When your agent prepares a comparative market analysis for you as you make plans to list your home for sale, take notice of the condition of the homes that are on the market and that have sold recently. These are the homes that your likely buyers have been to see, or will see soon. Do everything you can to make sure your home competes.

  • That being said, over-improving for the neighborhood is not a good idea. Debbie Drummond, luxury real estate in Las Vegas, points out the dangers of over-improving your home. She wisely points out that even if a seller could get an offer that would cover the cost of their over-improvements, an appraiser is not likely to give homeowners credit for all the upgrades.

Staging may be helpful in showing your home in the best possible light. Buyers should be able to imagine themselves living in the spaces of your home, without the distraction of your stuff. Read more about the 15 Rules of Staging.

🎥3. Photos & Video

The best real estate marketingWhen buyers are looking online, as more than 92% of them do, they want to see photos, lots of photos. Statistics show that the more photos you present in your online marketing (MLS and various real estate websites) the higher your chances of getting a buyer to see the home.

Make sure your agent takes lots of photos…professional quality photos. There’s nothing worse than seeing a handful of awful photos taken from an agents smartphone. We use a professional photographer to make sure the home and its rooms are shown in the best possible light.

Our MLS allows for 30 photos and 2 virtual tours. Having a high-definition walk-through video tour increases the likelihood of showings even more. In the internet age, buyers have come to expect a certain level of information from real estate websites. Remember, if you can’t get people to get off the computer and into a car to see your home, you can’t sell it.

Read more about the importance of Real Estate Photography and Video.

🚪4. Make Your Home Available

One of the most frustrating things to a buyer’s agent is to find a beautiful house that your buyer will most likely want to see, but the showing instructions are difficult to work with. “Showings only between 5 and 7 pm, and not on Sundays. And oh yes, 24 hours notice.”  That’s difficult when your buyer works on Saturdays and can only see homes after work and on Sunday. It’s nearly impossible when you have an out-of-town buyer who is only available for one day.

Asking for a lengthy amount of time to get notice of a showing can be a real problem. If a buyer is in the area and sees your home on the market, it is to your advantage to make every opportunity to accommodate them. Any buyer can be the one to say “yes, this is my dream house!” The more you constrict your showing schedule, the more potential buyers you turn away. One of the most important of 5 keys to getting your home sold, is to make it available!

  • Bill Gassett, real estate agent in Metrowest Massachusetts, points out the downsides to the 24-hour showing notice requirement. By requiring 24-hour notice, you could wind up making it harder for your home to sell. His article points out several ways that sellers and their agents can arrange showings.

I know that selling a home can be an interruption, it dominates your life for a few months. But being flexible is a must. You are in competition, and you have to make your home as easy to see as possible. Otherwise, you just end up selling your neighbor’s home. Think of it this way, the more flexible you are with showings, the sooner your home will sell and the sooner you can get on with your life.

🌐5. Spread a Wide Marketing Net

In this day and age, buyers come from everywhere. Trulia, Zillow, Craigslist,, broker’s websites and agent’s personal website, and numerous sites with real estate search tools… we have a list of more than 50 real estate specific websites which we use to promote our listings. One of the keys to getting your home sold after all the preparation is done, is to get buyers into your home. You can’t sell it if people don’t see it.

Not only must your home be listed everywhere buyers are, you must spread a net as wide as possible with your price, condition and marketing. All of the digital assets, like photography and video, great descriptions and marketing savvy, must all work together to appeal to the broadest audience of likely buyers.

Using a real estate agent with experience and marketing savvy is crucial to get the best results when selling your home.

I hope these 5 keys to getting your home sold are informative and help you get the best results on your home sale. Contact us for our High-Tech High- Touch Listing Plan and get your home sold for the best terms and price.

Chris Highland 
eXp Realty
Frederick, Md

🏡Find out what your Maryland home is worth

Need A Real Estate Agent in Your City? We Can Refer a Great Agent!

five keys to getting your home sold

Home Buyers Top 10 Wish List

Home Buyers Top 10 Wish List

After being Frederick Md Real Estate agents for over 26 years, we’ve worked with hundreds of home buyers and home sellers. Even though home decorating trends come and go and new home products hit the market all the time, there are some things that are true for any time and market. In our experience it’s true, kitchens sell homes, however there are several items today’s buyers think are important to have in a home. Here’s my home buyers top 10 wish list for 2018:

🧞Home Buyers Top Ten Wish List:  

🍲Kitchens and Baths Sell Homes🛀🏾

1. Modern, Updated Kitchen. The kitchen in today’s home is the communal place where family gathers for socializing as well as eating. The best investment a seller can make is to update the kitchen. The cost of updating a kitchen for a buyer is often an expense they’d rather not deal with, as most want a home that is move-in ready. If they see a kitchen with too much work involved to update it, unless there is some other compelling reason why they are in love with the home, they’ll usually move on.

The best recommendation for homeowners is to make updates and maintain and repair their home throughout the time they own it. Waiting until you decide to sell the home can mean a shock to your wallet when you have a lot of updating in front of you at once. Similarly, deferred maintenance often leads to chronic problems that are more expensive to fix in the end.

2. Bathrooms. Buyers will look next at the number and age of the bathrooms. The cost of updating a bathroom is usually the 2nd most costly update, after the kitchen.  A master bath that evokes a modern spa retreat is a coveted feature. Although you can’t hide major imperfections in a bathroom, staging can do wonders in this area. Painting the bathroom in a serene color, adding plush towels and a stylish decorator soap dispenser set can change the entire feel of a bathroom. There are also some clever inexpensive ways you can update a bathroom, like painting the trim on a dated shower, or updating the lighting or fixtures.

🤔Today’s Home Expectations Have Changed

3. Number of bedrooms. I recently viewed a large (5000+ square foot home) on 2 acres in an estate expectations have changedneighborhood. The home had only 3 bedrooms in a neighborhood where the comparable homes have 4 or 5 bedrooms. Can you say “Fatal Flaw”? The original homeowners designed and built the home according to their needs and wants, not thinking of the resale. The home had been on the market for over 2 years. The only remedy is price in that instance.

Today’s homeowners have higher expectations than their parents or grandparents did. Today’s families require that every child have their own bedroom, and sometimes their own bathroom. If you have rooms that you have repurposed for other uses, make sure you convert them back to bedrooms before you put your home on the market.

Most of the time people are looking for standard bedrooms, not special purpose rooms, or bonus rooms like hobby or craft rooms. Those are fine if they don’t come at the cost of a bedroom.

Back to the Top

4. Accessible and dedicated laundry space.

Laundry rooms used to be relegated to the basement. In most modern homes the laundry space has been brought upstairs to the bedroom levels or to the first floor where people live. Cabinets and counter space is a value-add for managing clothes and cleaning products. An organized laundry area that allows the homeowner to control clutter will be a plus.

🛍A Home Buyer’s Must Have: Room for Stuff

5. Storage. People have stuff. Stuff needs space. Home Buyers Top 10 Wish ListMost buyers tour a home looking at the overall storage possibilities.

If you don’t have a huge amount of storage in your home, don’t fret. Make sure you make the most of what you have. Pay attention to your storage spaces and rooms in your staging. Cull the closets to show as much room available as possible.

If your bedrooms are smallish, make sure you maximize the space. De-clutter and minimize furniture. This is just one reason why staging is important. It shows your home in the best possible way. Look at it this way, you’re going to be moving soon anyway…why not pack up a good amount of your stuff now?

6. An Organized Garage. One item that is a moving up the home buyers top 10 wish list is a functional garage. Today’s families appreciate a space large enough to fit 2 vehicles and offer storage space for their many activities. Having an organized storage system in the garage is a big plus for a home seller.

Here are some great ideas for organizing and primping up the garage from

🏞Living Large

7. Outdoor Living 10 wish list for home buyers

The trend for the last decade has been moving away from “McMansions” and toward more manageable homes with better plans. Homeowners want to have all the functionality in a smaller home, including the outside of the home.

Outdoor living space can be found in a deck or patio, or even in a side-yard. Creativity and some good old-fashioned labor can produce attractive outdoor spaces that add to the livability of any home. Add some inviting staging touches and you can add a lot of charm and appeal.

8. A Home Office has been growing in demand over the last decade as more people work from home either part-time or full-time. If a home doesn’t have a dedicated office space, it really adds to the appeal just to carve out office space in a kitchen or family room.

Back to the Top

9. Energy efficiency is high on today’s buyers’ wish list. Buyers are more aware of and interested in green innovations, both for the environment and for their wallets. The top of the list of green features are energy-efficient appliances and high-efficiency insulation and windows. There are many ways to increase the energy efficiency of your home, from simple additions like a programmable thermostat, or replacing your lighting with energy saving LED lighting fixtures.

10. Upgraded Light Fixtures and Ceiling Fans. Sometimes the most obvious things can get overlooked. Lighting and ceiling fans are so easy to replace with modern, design-friendly fixtures, for a very reasonable cost. Even if you don’t need to replace them, make sure you use the brightest bulbs possible. Lighting makes a huge difference and is one of those details that gives you the most bang for your buck.

📚Related Reading:

7 Tops Tips for Getting Your Home Sold Quickly, by Lori Cain, Mid-Town Tulsa real estate agent. Lori gives several good tips to help you get your home in move-in ready condition, something most of today’s buyers put at the top of their list.

In my article 15 Staging Rules, learn the principals behind the steps you can take to stage your home.

Easy Ways to Increase Your Home’s Appeal, don’t forget the aesthetics of your home, the “feels” that speak to potential buyers.

Decorating Trends for Homeowners 2018 because it’s always a good idea to have a fresh look. Outdated looks can suggest that the home itself is outdated.

Kitchen Trends 2018, because “kitchens and baths sell homes”




Find Out What Your Home is Worth (takes 15 seconds)

Search for Homes in Maryland

Need A Real Estate Agent in Your City? We Can Refer a Great Agent!

Chris Highland, Broker eXp Realty Maryland
Cell:  301-401-5119  Broker:  888-860-7369

Back to the Top

Homeowners – Are You Unhappy with Your Zestimate? How to Increase the Accuracy

Homeowners – Are You Unhappy with Your Zestimate? How to Increase the Accuracy

😠 Are You Unhappy with the Zestimate on Your Frederick Maryland Home?

Are you happy with the Zestimate on your home? If the answer is no, like these homeowners who contacted the Consumer Affairs website, or the many people who joined class-action lawsuits (unsuccessfully) I can help you change that number (we can hope it changes it for the better, but no promises!)

☹️ Here’s What You Can Do About Your Zestimate if You’re Not Happy

Zillow knows its computer calculations are imperfect, and they have coverage legally on that issue by disclosing that truth, and by disclosing the accuracy rates for each location. It’s just not very easy to find.

If you click on the Zestimate link at the bottom of the Zillow home page, you will find a chart called Data Coverage and Zestimate Accuracy Table.  The table lists the percentage accuracy of the Zestimate in each major metropolitan area. You can then click on states and see the data for counties.

For example, here in Frederick (Frederick County Maryland), Zillow claims its Zestimate is 64.3 percent accurate within 5 percent of the actual sales price. I don’t consider this very good. The Zestimate gets more accurate at 20 percent of the actual sales price: 91.9 percent. To me, that’s a pretty large margin of error.

It’s humorous to me that they give themselves 4 stars for 64.3 percent accuracy within 5% of sales price. If a Realtor® was only accurate that amount of time they probably wouldn’t be in business very long.


🤔 How do you make YOUR Zestimate more accurate?

The first thing you have to do is claim your house. Here is the link to do this: After your have “claimed” your home, make sure everything is accurate. You do this by clicking the link that says “Edit your home facts.

Tip No. 1Add great photos.  In my experience this almost always ups your Zestimate.

Tip No. 2: Write great copy. Zillow has two questions: It wants you describe the features of your house and then describe why you like living in this home. The copy is really important. Guess what? Spelling and Grammar Count!

“Today, when a homeowner updates the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage, lot size, year built or structural remodel year, the algorithm will immediately recognize those changes and update the Zestimate accordingly,” Zillow said in a release. “The change in estimated value will depend on several factors, including the home’s location and the breadth of changes to a home’s facts.”

I did this our house before we put it on the market 2 1/2 years ago and the Zestimate went up $10,000 in a few minutes! Note I had professional photos from Houselens and wrote in my finest King’s English.

When should you do this? NOW! Or at least before you put your house on the market. Because you know your potential buyers will check Zillow before making an offer.

Even if you are happy with your Zestimate, you should do this. You don’t know until you have a professional comparative market estimate (CMA) from a local Realtor® if that Zestimate is anywhere near accurate.

If you need help with this, contact me (Karen). I’ll be happy to help you.

😖 Understanding the Zestimate

Zillow also disclaims: “A Zestimate home valuation is Zillow’s estimated market value. It is not an appraisal. Use it as a starting point to determine a home’s value.”  I don’t even know what that’s supposed to meanif it’s not a Comparative Market Analysis, it’s useless.

Zillow is a computer system, an algorithm, not actual humans calculating information. The system relies on public data, such as tax records to calculate, so if there are errors in public information, that will be reflected in the Zestimate. Or, if upgrades and improvements haven’t been added to a public database, they won’t be reflected either.

Are you unhappy with the Zestimate on your home? By going to Zillow and updating the information about your house, you can help get a more accurate Zestimate. We can’t say how much it will help, but hopefully enough to minimize the possible damage of a grossly inaccurate number.

If you’d like a detailed explanation about Zillow Zestimates, this video by Home Buyer Channel explains it well:

🤓 Related Articles:

Find Out What Your Home is Worth (takes 15 seconds)

Search for Homes in Maryland

Need A Real Estate Agent in Your City? We Can Refer a Great Agent!

Chris Highland, Broker eXp Realty Maryland
Cell:  301-401-5119  Broker:  888-860-7369

Easy Updates for A Tired Bath

Easy Updates for A Tired Bath

🛀 Quick & Easy Bathroom Updates

If you’re thinking about updating your home, whether you want to sell in the future or not, the bathroom is a good place to start…it’s small. Whatever you are considering in the way of projects will cost less, and if the look isn’t quite right, you most likely can change it without great cost. Starting with easy updates for a tired bath will most likely get you motivated to tackle larger projects that might also be a little tired.

If you are preparing your home for sale the most important rooms to give some love are your kitchen and bathrooms. Most buyers will scrutinize these rooms, looking for updated features. The majority of today’s home buyers tend to want move-in ready. They aren’t looking for too many projects to face to make the home there own. Here are some easy steps to get started in the bathroom.

🖌 Painting the Bathroom Walls

Painting the walls is inexpensive and will provide an immediate change in the look and style of a room. Faux techniques are great to try in a small room like the bath, and if they don’t work, can be repainted the next day.

If you’re trying a new color and are unsure, the bathroom is a good place to start. A bathroom is a good place to try trendy paint colors this year, that go with your overall decor. A small dose of some colors goes a long way.

The “new neutrals” include subdued tones of many colors…neutrals go way beyond beige for today’s trends. Grey can serve as a neutral, allowing for bright-colored accents.

Important Note: Bathroom-formula paint should always be used to help prevent mold and mildew.

 🎨 Bathroom Ceilings

If you’re not ready to replace the bathroom floor, there is the next best option to consider… divert attention upwards. To get the look of old fashioned tin ceilings, there are several ceiling tile wallpapers available which are paintable. This textured wallpaper gives the impression of embossed plaster and will keep visitors looking up.

Ceiling TilesAnother option is a ceiling-sized stencil, some paint and crown molding, to create a one-of-a-kind ceiling space. Ceiling tiles and panels are also an affordable way to add style and interest.

Staying at ceiling level, a space-saving addition to consider is a narrow shelf over the doorway, just wide enough to hold extra rolls of toilet paper. A six-inch deep shelf can be supported directly on the door frame, held in place by a small bracket. You can use wall shelves to house decorative items that take up too much space on the vanity.

👣 Bathroom Flooring

Even with a new ceiling, the bathroom floor can’t hide forever. Wood floors are a popular option in most homes today, but homeowners shy away from wood floors in a wet environment such as a bath. Fortunately, it’s possible to have both the warm look of wood and the durability of vinyl today. Vinyl planks are available from most home supply stores and come with textured finishes that bathroom updates

Vinyl Planks – BobVila.comsimulate real wood. Finishes include oak, maple, bamboo and other exotic woods. Cost can range from $1 to $4 per sq. ft., and the small size of the room makes it possible to lay a new floor in a day or two.

If the vinyl floor is looking tired and worn out, a coat of paint and five to six applications of polyurethane can give a floor a whole new look. To do the job, first prime the floor with a specialty primer. You can use a stencil to mimic a tile pattern or to create a border.

One decorator has experimented with using brown paper bags to create the look of leather or stone on a bathroom floor. She suggests tearing off irregular pieces of bag, gluing them to the floor and topping with four to six coats of polyurethane.

If you have funds for something more, there are a number of manufactured wood products that are designed specifically for the bathroom. Ceramic, stone, porcelain and manufactured stone products are more affordable when you consider the square footage is small…it could be just the place to splurge!

See 2018 Bathroom Trends

📏 Small Changes in the Bathroom

Even a change as small as replacing hardware can give a bathroom a much needed lift. Toilet handles, cabinet handles, and door hardware Frederick Md Real Estateand towel racks can all shine brightly and give the bathroom some sparkle. Incidentally, If your bathroom is still sporting the 80’s brass look, you’ll certainly want to give it back to that decade!

You can even change the hardware and trim on a shower stall from gold to a trendier color, and without removing doors or other shower hardware. You can use 220-grit sandpaper, steel wool and elbow grease, for starters. Once the hardware has been thoroughly scraped, apply spray-on automobile primer. Metallic spray paint in black or another color goes on last. You can even use this technique for shower fixtures.

Simple things like a new toilet seat and faucets are relatively easy and inexpensive fixes. Along the same line, a new or refinished bathroom mirror will add focal interest, reflect light and won’t flush the budget down the drain.

💡 Bathroom Lighting

Lighting is a quick and easy update to accomplish. Any big box store will have a lot of contemporary light fixtures to choose from, at an affordable price. Keep in mind the various task lighting that is necessary in the bathroom and don’t be afraid to “light it up”.

Today’s decorating trends emphasize creating a spa-like atmosphere in the bathroom. With that in mind, you can certainly add a touch of glamour with a lamp or even a chandelier, if it fits with your decor and style. A small touch of luxury goes a long way in a room like a bathroom.

🚰 Painting Your Vanity

If your vanity is in good shape, but just a little dated, you can try your hand at painting it to give the bathroom an update. There are many ways to paint a vanity, depending on the material.

Chalk Paint is all the rage, and many find that it’s ease of use and the lack of prep required make it a great alternative. It’s relatively easy to get exactly the look you want, whether its an antiqued look, a shabby chic style, or a modern finish. You just have to make sure you use the proper top coat to keep the moisture at bay.

Check out my Pinterest Board for Chalk Paint Tips and Tricks:

Follow The Highland Group’s board Chalk Paint Tricks and Tips on Pinterest.



🧖 Updated Decor and Accessories

Fresh new towels and bathroom decor can make a big difference for such a small investment. You can quickly and easily breath new life into a tired bathroom with some shiny and bright candles, small artworks for the walls, and a stylish new soap dispenser set. Even a beautiful new trash can will add to the aesthetic!


Thanks to our favorite home inspector, David Goldberg, for an excellent guest article. It’s great advice for some easy updates for a tired bath.

David Goldberg –  Home Inspector

Reliable Home Services
ASHI Member #101584
MD License #29322

*          *          *          *          *
If You have a remodeling project in mind, contact us for a list of professionals we’re proud to recommend.

Find Out What Your Home is Worth (takes 15 seconds)

Search for Homes in Maryland

Need A Real Estate Agent in Your City? We Can Refer a Great Agent!

Chris Highland, Broker eXp Realty Maryland
Cell:  301-401-5119  Broker:  888-860-7369

Pin it for Later Reading

quick and easy updates for the bathroom

Google Analytics Alternative