Category Archives: Seller Tips

Navigate Your Home Sale

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Navigate Your Home Sale

The paperwork required from home sellers has become rather complex, a good agent will help you navigate your home sale.  Seller disclosure statements and jurisdictional forms include and inform of any known defects to the home as well as airports, new roads and forest protection areas as well as actual taxes, future estimated taxes and a range of environmental concerns. To protect yourself from liability, it is important to fill out these forms thoroughly and accurately. Your realtor will help you to navigate the correct forms and required paperwork.

Find the right realtor

In the maze of forms, financing, inspections, marketing, pricing, and negotiating, it makes sense to work with a professional who knows the community, has experience with the process and who you can trust to navigate your home sale.

Price it right- from the start
Several factors, including market conditions, your home’s condition and recent neighborhood home sales will determine how you should price your home. In other words, home selling is part art, part science, part marketing, and part negotiation. A house that starts out over priced takes longer to sell and likely sells for less. Your real estate agent will supply you will the latest stats and help you to price your home right.

Plan your move
UNCLUTTER! (and pack) Cleaning out closets, the basement, and the attic, you will have less to do once the home is under contract. Your agent will share resources for junk haulers, and charity organizations for donations .

Market your house for maximum exposure
Your Realtor should share a marketing plan with you, the more you know about the process of selling your home the easier it is to support your Realtor’s efforts. The photo’s and brochures, internet and print ad should be in place before the big launch of making your house active on the market.

Repair, Prepare, and Move

Your Realtor will help you stage your home- which sometimes means removing furniture, and will suggest landscaping and other improvements. She will also help you find  great licensed contractors, a mover and other professionals you may need to facilitate the moving process.

Negotiate the offer

Whether you have one offer or several to consider, your agent will help you bottom line the offer and present your options to you- accept, counter-offer or reject.

Move

Your Realtor will help you with finding  great licensed contractors, movers, and finally — find you a great new house!!!

Tracy Tkac
301-437-8722
Evers & Co.
Tracy@eversco.com
www.WashingtonHG.com

A Good First Impression

Good First Impression

Good First Impression – OnLINE

You should prepare for your photo shoot as much as you would for an open house or private showing. Work alongside an excellent  local real estate agent , and follow these tips to make sure your home looks its best.

Never list your home online without photos

Today’s buyers get email and text alerts when a new home that matches their criteria hits the market. There is nothing more frustrating than to see the desired address come across as an alert, only for the listing to be incomplete.

Buyers (and agents) will punish you for jumping the gun. Will they go back later and look again, once you have the photos up? Maybe — but maybe not.

You’re adding an extra step for them, and it comes across like you don’t have your ducks in a row. That’s not a great way to start out with your future customer.

Clean, declutter, organize and remove

You should spend a good amount of time preparing for your photo shoot. This means that you fluff the pillows, put toilet seats down, put Fido’s bowl and toys away, and ensure the home  is in impeccable condition.

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A tidy home free of clutter appeals to buyers. Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

People can zoom in, zoom out and play with photos in online listings. They’ll notice everything. If your photos don’t show your home well, it sends a message to the buyer that you don’t care, and that you are not a serious seller.

The buyer is your customer. You have a product for sale. Take the time to present it in the best possible light.

Poor photos won’t cut it

Images that are blurry, poorly lit, or distorted are not going to sell your home.

It’s a good idea to hire a professional photographer who will take high-resolution photos, and even bring extra lighting or equipment to enhance their work. They’ll also take dozens of pictures and work tirelessly to show your home in the right light and from the best angles.

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Well-lit photos show off your home’s assets. Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Don’t skimp on the number of photos

When it comes to photos, the more, the merrier. You want to make it easy on buyers to get comfortable with and learn more about your home.

Not only are the listing photos their initial impression, but they serve to help orient the buyer after the first or second showing. Once they have been through the home in person, they are better able to relate to the floor plan and how it flows. Going back to the listing photos allows them to make connections and dig deeper. Encourage them to do so by posting plenty of photos.

BY BRENDON DESIMONE

Tracy Tkac
Direct – 301-437-8722

Office -202-364-1700
Evers & Co.
Tracy@Eversco.com
www.WashingtonHG.com

Spring Checklist

Spring Checklist

Here are some basic hints and a spring inspired checklist for getting your home ready for sale or just a happy new spring beginning.

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De-clutter your home

Clean off your kitchen counter-tops of everything, and tidy up the pots and pans in cabinets, pantry and spice drawers. Toss or recycle un-matching mugs and dish-ware.

File, put away or hide stacks of mail and paperwork.

Go through your closets and give away old coats and clothes you don’t need or use anymore.

Straighten-up your linen closet and toss or donate the old linens and towels you don’t use.

Remove shoes, coats and other personal items from entryway.

Toss or recycle old magazines and give away or recycle old paperbacks.

Pack away multiple family photos, leaving only a few out for decoration.

Clear bathroom countertops of all personal items.

Clear the garage of all old garden items, unused sporting equipment and organize bikes and gardening tools.

Clean

Clean or hire a professional cleaner to do a deep cleaning  including:

clean windows

clean fan blades

clean air-flow registers

clean out refrigerator and remove any items from the top and front- dust and clean the top too.

clean inside and outside of oven and microwave polish counter-tops

clean bathrooms throughly, throw away shower liner and replace with new, scrub shower doors and all fixtures

clean or hire a professional carpet cleaner, buff or polish wood floors

look up, make sure there are no cobwebs or dust on the ceiling

clean off fireplace mantel

clean off bedroom dressers and desks

Outside

Remove old flower pots, broken outdoor furniture, broken childrens toys

Put cover on grill

Tidy up yard

Mulch flower beds

clean front door

Paint and Freshen

Paint front door

Consider new hardware on front-door and out door lighting

When in doubt- paint interior and exterior

Place flowers at entrance in pots outside or planted and always – lovely flowers inside!

I am happy to come to your property and give you my opinion and advice- at no cost or obligation, just give me a call!

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Tracy Tkac
301-437-8722
Evers & Co.

Tracy@eversco.com
www.WashingtonHG.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

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Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

 

It is time to do the Fall Home Maintenance Checklist necessary to get your home ready for winter. Be certain to turn off your hose bibs and perform the other household chores listed below around Halloween time, enjoy the treat of a nice smooth transition into  winter rather than the trick to dealing with clogged downspouts and frozen pipes when the weather gets colder.

Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

  1. Turn off your house bibs.  Locate the outside hose spigot and the corresponding inside area where the pipe comes into the house, most of the time that will be in the basement. Follow the pipe and turn the water supply off by turning the knob to the left or if the turn- off is a lever- pulling the lever to be perpendicular (across it) to the pipe.  Then go outside and turn on the hose spigot, water will drain out of the pipe. Go back inside and armed with a cup- loosen the small metal nut next to the turn off handle, water will dribble out into the cup and replace the nut. Repeat with other hose bibs, and you have winterized your outside plumbing!
  2. Clear out your gutters. You can get a ladder and do it yourself or hire a handyman. Cleaning the gutters will prevent ice blockages and water seeping into the house or pulling the gutters off and causing other damage.
  3. Change your furnace filter. This should be done monthly or quarterly depending on the type of filter you install. Also consider having the HVAC system annually services at this time.
  4. Rake the leaves on the yard and mulch. You and your neighbors will appreciate a tidy lawn even when the landscape is barren.
  5. Replace outside lightbulbs. No one wants to get on a ladder in freezing temperatures and winter brings shorter days, you will thank yourself for the exterior lighting when you really need it.
  6. Change the battery in your smoke detectors. Winter is a time of fireplaces, candles and light decorations, take precautions.
  7. Plant the last bulbs in your yard. You will be delighted by the fresh colors and beauty in the spring for the work you did in the fall.

by Tracy Tkac, Realtor

Tracy Tkac

Evers & Co. Real Estate

cell    301-437-8722

office 202-364-1700

tracy@eversco.com

www.WashingtonHG.com

Licensed in Maryland, Virginia and the District of ColumbiaYour referrals are warmly welcomed and appreciated!

 

Real Estate Disclosures

Real Estate Disclosures

Real Estate Disclosures

 

It’s standard practice in real estate to give a home a fresh coat of paint before putting it on the market. Nine out of 10 times, the intention is to show the property at its best. But every so often, the seller paints the house in hopes of covering something up.

In most parts of the country, sellers (and agents) are required to document any known defects —  whether current or past — to potential buyers. But some sellers don’t play by the rules and will try to get one past a buyer.

Whether you’re a listing a home for sale or in the market to purchase, this is what you need to know about disclosures.

What is a disclosure?

Disclosure statements, which can come in a variety of forms, are the buyer’s opportunity to learn as much as they can about the property and the seller’s experience in it.

Potential seller disclosures range from knowledge of leaky windows to work done without the benefit of a permit, to information about a major construction or development project nearby.

Not only do disclosure documents serve to inform buyers, but they can also protect the sellers from future legal action. It is the seller’s chance to reveal anything that can negatively affect the value, usefulness or enjoyment of the property.

How does a seller make a disclosure?

Disclosure laws vary from state to state, even down to the city and county level. California has some of the most stringent disclosure requirements. The law requires that sellers (and their agents) complete or sign off on dozens of documents, such as a Natural Hazards Disclosure Statement, Local and State Transfer Disclosure Statements, Advisories about Market Conditions and even Megan’s Law Disclosures.

Disclosure typically comes in the form of boilerplate documents (put together by the local or state real estate association), where the seller answers a series of yes/no questions about their home and their experience there.

Additionally, sellers must present any documented communication (between neighbors, previous owners, the seller or the agents) about a substantial defect or item that could have an adverse impact on value.

Depending on where you live, sellers can be on the hook for what they disclose (or fail to) for up to 10 years. Sellers should err on the side of caution. If you know it, put it out there. If you try to hide something, it can come back to haunt you in the form of an expensive lawsuit.

What do sellers disclose to potential buyers?

Previous improvements, renovations or upgrades done by sellers are typical disclosures, as well as whether work was done with or without permits.

Buyers should cross check the seller’s disclosures with the city building permit and zoning reports. Work completed without a permit, or approval by the municipality, may not have been performed to code, which could result in a fire or health hazard.

Other standard disclosures include the existence of pets, termite problems, neighborhood nuisances, any history of property line disputes, and defects or malfunctions with major systems or appliances. Disclosure documents often ask sellers if they are involved in bankruptcy proceedings, if there any liens on the property, and so on.

Is a disclosure the same as an inspection?

Disclosure is something given to the buyer by the seller documenting their knowledge of the property. It is not the same thing as an independent inspection by a third party. An examination may reveal defects that the seller may not have been aware of.

The buyer should always do a full property inspection, before moving forward with the purchase. The inspector checks all systems and components from the roof to the basement. Often, in the interest of the ultimate in full disclosure, a seller hires a property inspector before going on the market and supplies the written report to the buyer.

When does the buyer receive disclosure statements?

In most markets, disclosure documents are provided to buyers once the seller has accepted their offer. In addition to their inspections or loan contingency, the buyer has an opportunity to review the seller’s disclosures. If the buyer discovers something negative about the property through disclosure, she can usually back out.

In some markets, sellers provide these disclosures to the customers before an offer. Smart sellers let buyers know everything they need to know up front. It’s smart because it saves everyone time, hassle and expense by preventing deals from falling apart once they’re in escrow.

Buyers must sign off on all disclosures and reports. So it’s important to review them carefully and ask questions if you need to. Full disclosure upfront is the way to go. Providing full disclosure can help a seller. By laying their cards out, sellers can give buyers a sense of comfort or peace of mind, making their home more desirable than a competing one.

BY BRENDON DESIMONE,  Zillow

 

 

Tracy Tkac
301-437-8722
Evers & Co.
Tracy@eversco.com
www.WashingtonHG.com

 

 

Selling? MUST READ!

You may think of it as giving yourself room to bargain, but beware. You could just turn off buyers. If you are selling? This is a must read!

Pricing a home for sale is more of an art than a science. Each home’s value falls within a range, and the price the buyer and seller agree on determines the exact value of the property.

If priced competitively from the very beginning, a home will sell at the higher end of the value range. The longer it lingers, the lower it lands in that range.

In fact, “homes that linger on the market tend to sell for significantly less than their listing price: five percent less after two months,” according to Zillow research.

Price: The battle between seller and agent

Homeowners have a very limited perspective on the real estate market, as they are only concerned with one home: their own.

On the other hand, successful agents live and breathe their local markets daily. They have their feet on the street, and possess a great understanding of current market conditions because they work with buyers, tour homes, and have first-hand knowledge of what moves.

Because they have limited knowledge, many sellers over-value their homes. They may assume that the agent just wants to price their home — their biggest asset — at a low price for a quick sale. And so a friction begins.

But agents know that homes that are priced right and show well will sell in good times and bad.

First impressions make the difference

The market typically responds to a new listing in the first few weeks, so do everything you can to make it attractive to buyers right from the start. Price your home right, and take all of your agent’s advice about cleaning, de-cluttering, painting and prepping, and your home should sell without incident, and for top dollar.

List at the wrong price or with the home not in its best showing condition, and you’ll leave a poor first impression on the market. As time passes, a listing starts to lose its momentum as newer, more competitive homes come up for sale. As the number of days on the market increases, interest in your home decreases, and the listing becomes stale.

Next stop: price reduction

A price reduction inevitably occurs after weeks or months of inactivity. If the seller doesn’t price the home within striking distance (say, five percent in many markets) of what the buyer perceives the value to be at the time, the seller has to come down in price. Often, they come down, but still not enough.

If the sellers miss the market twice, buyers won’t take them seriously, and will wait around for the next reduction.

The home will eventually get into the right price range for the market, and a buyer will strike. But they will probably punish the seller by coming in with an offer far lower than they would have, had the home come onto the market at the right price.

Once sellers lose the momentum of being new on the market, they’re at a disadvantage when it comes time to negotiate.

Risk of the market changing

What’s worse is that markets can start to decline over time. A seller may list in March to a healthy market, but their odds of making a top-dollar sale fall as inventory piles up, the economy slows, interest rates rise, or any number of factors come into play.

Come September, the value range of the home is lower than it was in March. A change in market conditions is a risk a seller takes by pricing too high.

Risk of showing poorly

As time passes, sellers may get lazy, and keeping the house clean and organized becomes a chore. Weeds come back, dust bunnies creep up, and the house doesn’t show as well as it did when it first went on the market.

Buyers who show up when the price is right will have even more reason to penalize the seller with a low offer.

Advice to sellers

If you are serious about selling your home and have a game plan and motivation to move on, take pricing very seriously.

If you and your agent disagree about the price, but not by a lot, it’s worth trying the higher number. But have an upfront plan to reduce the price quickly, and use that price reduction as a marketing activity.

The market will respond positively to a seller who shows they are serious about selling.

by Brendon DeSimone Zillow

Tracy Tkac

Evers & Co. Real Estate

cell    301-437-8722

office 202-364-1700

tracy@eversco.com

www.WashingtonHG.com

Licensed in Maryland, Virginia and the District of ColumbiaYour referrals are warmly welcomed and appreciated!

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Tax Breaks for Homeowners

Owning a home can be a big expense, but the good news is some of your expenses are actually tax deductible. Read on to see how you can maximize homeownership write-offs on your tax return. (Note that this information is valid for tax year 2015 only.)

Mortgage interest

You can deduct all of the mortgage interest (not principal) payments you make on your home, up to a $1-million loan for a couple filing jointly. This applies to your home equity line of credit (on a loan up $100,000) and second mortgage as well.

If you own a second home, such as a vacation cottage or mobile home, you can deduct the mortgage interest for it as well, so long as you reside there for the longer of 14 days per year or 10 percent of the time it is rented out.

Mortgage points and insurance

In addition to the mortgage interest, you can also deduct the points you pay on your mortgage for your main home in the year you pay them, as well as points paid for a home equity loan. Points paid for refinancing your home mortgage generally have to be amortized over the length of the loan.

You can also deduct any premiums paid for private mortgage insurance (PMI) on your loan if you earned less than $109,000 in 2015 and the policy was taken out after 2006.

Property taxes

As strange as it sounds, you can deduct taxes on your taxes! Your property taxes are a deductible expense. Keep your property tax bills and proof of payment.

Home office

If you have some sort of home-based business, you may be entitled to a home office deduction on your taxes. There are several hoops to jump through to qualify for the deduction, the two biggest being that your home must be your primary place of business, and that you use the office space only for work. (The IRS spells out the rules for claiming the home office deduction in Publication 587.)

There are two ways to calculate your deduction. Under the simplified option, you can deduct $5 per square foot of your home office’s area, up to a maximum 300 square feet.

The more complex (but often more advantageous) option involves dividing the square footage of your office by the total square footage of your home; this yields the “business percentage” of your home. You then multiply allowable home costs — namely mortgage interest and utilities — by the business percentage to arrive at the deductible amounts.

Energy credits

If you implemented energy-efficient improvements to your home, you can get a credit of up to 10 percent of the cost of those improvements, to a maximum of $500. This covers expenses like new windows and doors, insulation, and high-efficiency heating and cooling systems. You could also get a credit for 30 percent of the cost of renewable energy systems, like solar power.

There could also be state tax credits for these items as well which you can stack on top of your federal credit.

Medical home improvements

If you have a medical condition that necessitates home improvements, such as adding a stair lift because you have arthritis or an air filter because your spouse suffers from allergies, you may be able to write off some of these costs as part of your medical deduction.

However, you can deduct only that portion of your medical costs that exceed 10 percent of your adjusted gross income (7.5 percent if you are 65 or older).

And in most cases, you can deduct only the difference between the cost of the equipment and the increase in value to the home from this improvement. Some improvements (such widening doorways to accommodate a wheelchair) add no marketable value to the home but are fully deductible if you meet certain income requirements.

Home sales

If you sold your home in the last year, you could be eligible for some tax savings resulting from that transaction. The costs of your real estate agent’s fees, advertising, and title insurance are deductible expenses. You can also deduct improvements you made to the home in order to sell it, but only if you have a taxable capital gain from the sale.

Home damages

If your home was damaged by weather, fire, theft, or another disaster, you’ve suffered a casualty loss, a portion of which may be deductible. If your loss was greater than 10 percent of your income and was not covered by insurance, you can deduct the loss. You’ll need to be able to document the value of what was lost, however.

by Brette Sember

 

Tracy Tkac
301-437-8722
Evers & Co.

Tracy@eversco.com
www.WashingtonHG.com

Who Will Buy Your Home?

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Who Will Buy Your Home?

When it comes time to sell your home, whether you’ve lived there for three years or 30, you need to see it as a product for sale. And just like an item on a store shelf, you want your home to stand out from the competition.

Of course, your feelings and emotions about your home — and all of the memories you made there — may make it difficult to detach and view your home as a product. But sellers who quickly transition away from the emotional connection and into investment mode will reap the financial benefits many times over. Homes that go into contract quicker and with few (if any) price reductions ultimately sell for more money. And isn’t that every seller’s goal?

What’s on buyers’ wish lists

Homes that sell quickly probably have many of the features today’s buyers find desirable. Smart retailers try to understand better what consumers want, and then deliver to them. Home sellers should do the same.

When you’re preparing to sell your home, consider small renovations, updates, cleaning and even some light staging. I’ve seen sellers make significant upgrades to their home before listing, leaving them to question if they actually want to move.

Today’s buyers look for move-in ready and turn-key homes. The more bells and whistles, the better.

Focus on kitchens and baths

It’s a pretty well-established fact that kitchens and baths sell a home. If your kitchen or bathroom is tired or outdated, consider modest upgrades that pack a punch.

Painting cabinets white gives the kitchen a clean and fresh look. Consider new stone countertops like quartz or granite. And replace old faucets with shiny new ones.

Spending a modest sum can reap incredible benefits — tenfold.

If you’ve got it, flaunt it

Research shows that certain features help sell a home faster. Even if you don’t have time for renovations, you might luck out and already have some of the items on buyers’ wish lists.

For example, subway tiles in the kitchen or bathroom, barn doors, and craftsman features are proven to help homes sell faster. If your home has these, play them up, because today’s buyers want them.

Just like companies figure out the next hot car, handbag or shoe for their respective industries, smart home sellers must know their audience and market their product to meet customer demand.

When it comes time to sell, consider your buyer, and try hard to make your home into a top-notch product.

 

 

 

BRENDON DESIMONE- Zillow

 

Tracy Tkac
301-437-8722
Evers & Co.

Tracy@eversco.com
www.WashingtonHG.com

Curb Appeal

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Curb Appeal   Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Curb Appeal

Let’s face it, first impressions matter. We care about how we dress for a job interview, and we spent extra time in front of the mirror before that first date. When it comes to selling a home, first impressions matter, too. Its all about curb appeal!

The term “curb appeal” derives from real estate sales and home design. For years, buyers have formed their first impressions of homes while standing in the street or sitting inside the car, just beyond the curb. Before the advent of text messaging and smartphones, a buyer would get a phone call or fax from their agent about a new listing. The initial drive-by would determine whether or not they would go for an actual showing.

To get that buyer in the door, the seller spent hours, even days, seeding new grass and planting flowers, painting their front door, mulching, weeding and cleaning up the yard. If the home didn’t appeal from the curb, buyers moved on to the next house. Curb appeal was always the single most important piece of the home sale puzzle.

Expanded appeal

Today, curb appeal still matters — but it matters differently. Almost every buyer forms their first impression from a home’s online photos.

Instead of driving to your home, buyers will scroll through pictures of both the outside and the inside, before ever stepping foot inside. What’s more, they may never come to see it if they don’t like what they see online.

While the exterior of your home should be high on your priority list, it is most valuable only when the buyer walks up or drives by. But they may not ever get that far.

The interior also needs to show your home in its best possible light, because Web appeal has become the new curb appeal. And if your home doesn’t photograph well — either because you didn’t have it professionally shot, didn’t post high-resolution photos, or you haven’t taken the time to prep it — then curb appeal won’t even make a difference.

What sellers should do

Sellers need to spend ample time preparing the inside of their home and getting great photos, so buyers will form the best possible impression.

The downside for sellers is that they have to work so much harder than they did just 15 years ago. In our ever-more-visual society, buyers make immediate judgments about a home within moments of clicking on the new listing on their smartphone.

Sellers only have one chance to make a good impression. The home still needs to look good from the curb — but to get the buyers there in person, it needs to look great on the Web.

BRENDON DESIMONE- Zillow

 

Tracy Tkac
301-437-8722
Evers & Co.

Tracy@eversco.com
www.WashingtonHG.com

Pricing Your Home Right- from the Start

Front Kilkenny

Sold in 5 days!

Pricing Your Home Right- from the Start

One of the most important factors in selling your home is to price it as accurately as possible from the beginning. Some sellers want to “test” the market by offering their home at an elevated price point to see if they get any bites for the ultimate goal of walking away with more money in their pockets. Of course, that is goal of every home seller- to maximize profit to go forth with the next purchase, relocation or retirement but it will not likely be obtained by over-pricing your home listing, but pricing your home right from the start will.

By testing the market with an inflated price, one that is not supported by recently sold homes in the neighborhood, some sellers are actually achieving the opposite of their goal. The over priced listing may languish, and sit on the market for longer and the price will eventually have to be lowered anyway, and many times to below market value. Sadly, this type of listing is often overlooked because it has become stale. Both agents and buyers may summarily eliminate that home from their search because it has been on the market for a long time and they may assume something must be wrong with that property.

Pricing your home right means looking very honestly at the condition of the home, the up-grades (or lack of), the location with-in the neighborhood and most importantly the recently sold homes in your area. A good real estate agent will be able to provide you with the neighborhood market activity including what has sold in the last six months-, which is the criteria an appraiser will use when appraising your home for the buyers loan. And he/she will also show you what is currently for sale or under contract and help you compare your property with those homes. Listing at the right price will likely mean your home will be shown more and ultimately be sold for more.

By Tracy Tkac

Tracy Tkac
301-437-8722
Evers & Co.

Tracy@eversco.com
www.WashingtonHG.com