Tag Archives: Lindy Gelb

New Mortgage Rules

Some Builders Like New Mortgage Rules, But Toll Calls Them “Dumb

A Pulte home being built in Phoenix.
Getty Images

Some home builders are heralding federal regulators’ move this week to ease mortgage-qualification standards  as a key to reviving the entry-level market but at least one is panning it as a return to dangerous lending.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency indicated this week it will expand mortgage availability with changes such as allowing borrowers to make a down payment of 3% of a loan’s value rather than the typical 20% for a high-quality mortgage.

On Thursday, two national builders reporting quarterly results touted the change as key to bringing first-time buyers back into the market. First-time buyers accounted for an average of 29% of new home sales from 2001 to 2011, according to the National Association of Home Builders. But this year that figure has dropped to an estimated 16% , because of tepid job and wage growth, mounting student debt and tight lending standards.

“I don’t think anybody is a proponent for going back to what happened in 2006 or 2007 at all, but a little common sense goes a long way,” said Larry Nicholson, chief executive of builder Ryland Group Inc., in a conference call with investors Thursday, adding, “I do think it helps the entry-level buyer with the 97% (loan-to-value) program. I think that will get some people off the fence.”

Richard Dugas, CEO of builder PulteGroup Inc., called the proposed changes “a positive statement” during his quarterly conference call with investors on Thursday. “Over time, as some of these ideas get put into practice, it certainly has the potential to affect activity, particularly for the entry-level category,” Mr. Dugas said.

But a different view was expressed Wednesday by Robert Toll, founder and executive chairman of luxury home builder Toll Brothers Inc., during remarks at a Urban Land Institute conferencein New York. He called the proposed loosening of credit standards “a really dumb-ass idea.”

“Yeah, we have a slow recovery, but it appears to be going to continue,” Mr. Toll said, adding, “Why do we want to go do what got us into this problem in the first place? … Three percent down doesn’t make any sense.”

Mr. Toll concluded that lenders have required a 20% down payment on top-rated mortgages for decades “and we had a hell of a housing program.”

Mr. Toll has a little less at risk than do other homebuilders. His company caters to affluent buyers, selling homes at an average price of $717,000. Pulte and Ryland, by contrast, serve more entry-level buyers than Toll, though they sell to others as well.

Quarterly results released by Pulte and Ryland on Thursday reflected a new-home market that remains stuck between neutral and slow growth. Pulte reported inking 3,779 sales contracts in its third quarter, flat from the year-ago period when analysts expected a gain of 5%. Ryland posted a 7.2% increase in orders to 1,707 when analysts expected a double-digit gain.

Ryland’s average selling price registered $331,000, up 11.1% from a year earlier after gains in the high teen percentages earlier in 2014, according to Raymond James & Associates analyst Buck Horne.

Toll, for its part, reported in September a 6% decline in orders in its latest quarter, which ended July 31.

Why Use A Real Estate Agent?

Why Use A Real Estate Agent? The road to homeownership can be bumpy, and it’s often filled with unexpected turns and detours. That’s why it makes sense to have a real estate pro help guide the way.

According to the National Association of Realtors 2013 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 88 percent of buyers purchase their homes through real estate agents or brokers. That reliance on real estate professionals has steadily increased from 69 percent in 2001.

While real estate websites and mobile apps can help you identify houses you may be interested in, an experienced agent does much more.

Real estate agents:

1. Guide. Before you tour your first home, your agent will take time to learn more about your wants, needs, preferences, budget and motivation. A good real estate agent will help you narrow your search and identify your priorities.

2. Educate. You should expect your agent to provide data on the local home market and comparable sales. The home-buying process can be complicated. A good agent will explain the steps involved – in a manner that makes them understandable – and provide counsel along the way.

3. Network. An agent who is familiar with your target neighborhoods will often know about homes that are for sale – even before they’re officially listed. Experienced agents tend to know other agents in the area and have good working relationships with them; this can lead to smooth transactions. Your agent may also be able to refer you to trusted professionals including lenders, home inspectors and contractors.

4. Advocate. When you work with a buyer’s agent, their fiduciary responsibility is to you. That means you have an expert who is looking out for your best financial interests, an expert who’s contractually bound to do everything in their power to protect you. If you find yourself in a situation where the same agent represents both the buyer and seller, things can get trickier, advises Scottsdale, Arizona-based real estate agent Dru Bloomfield.

“A lot of people think they’ll get a lower price by going straight to the listing agent, but that’s always not true,” she says. “If I was representing both the buyer and seller, I’d be hard-pressed to take a low-ball offer to the seller. But, as a buyer’s agent I’d do it, because I have no emotional ties or fiduciary responsibility to the seller. Buyers should work with an agent who can fully represent them.”

5. Negotiate. Your agent will handle the details of the negotiation process, including the preparation of all necessary offer and counteroffer forms. Once your inspection is done, the agent can also help you negotiate for repairs. Even the most reasonable consumers can become distraught when battling over repair requests; an agent can do “the ask” without becoming overly emotional.

6. Manage minutia. The paperwork that goes along with a real estate transaction can be exhaustive. If you forget to initial a clause or check a box, all those documents will need to be resubmitted. A good real estate agent understands the associated deadlines and details and can help you navigate these complex documents.

7. Look out. Any number of pitfalls can kill a deal as it inches toward closing; perhaps the title of the house isn’t clear, the lender hasn’t met the financing deadline or the seller has failed to disclose a plumbing problem. An experienced real estate agent knows to watch for trouble before it’s too late, and can skillfully deal with challenges as they arise.

Professional real estate agents do so much more than drive clients around to look at homes. Find an agent you trust and with whom you feel comfortable working; you’re sure to benefit from their experience, knowledge of the local market and negotiation skills.


5 Myths and 5 Truths About Selling Your Home

5 Myths and 5 Truths About Selling Your Home

5 tips for showing your home for sale
Washington Homes Group

Seems everyone has advice to offer about the real estate market. Unfortunately, not all that unsolicited information is true.

Misinformation can waste your time and cost you money. When it comes time to list your home, you’ll need to do your research so you can separate fact from fiction. Real estate agents participating inZillow’s 2014 Home-Selling Season Survey identified five top real estate myths; the debunking of them should put you on the fast-track to selling your property:

Myth No. 1: I need to redo my kitchen and bathroom before selling.

Truth: While kitchens and bathrooms can increase the value of a home, you won’t get a large return on investment if you do a major renovation just before selling.

Minor renovations, on the other hand, may help you sell your home for a higher price. New countertops or new appliances may be just the kind of bait you need to reel in a buyer. Check out comparable listings in your neighborhood and see what work you need to do to compete in the market.

Myth No. 2: The outside of my home isn’t as important as the inside.

Truth: Home buyers often make snap judgments, often based simply on a home’s exterior. Therefore, curb appeal is very important.

“A lot of buyers I work with have done some preliminary online searches or they’ve driven by properties before they even enlist my services,” says Bic DeCaro, a real estate agent Westgate Realty Group in Falls Church, VA. “If a property looks bad, if the yard is cluttered or the driveway is all broken up, there’s a chance they won’t ever enter the house – they’ll just keep driving.”

Curb Appeal

Curb Appeal

The great news is that it doesn’t cost a bundle to make some big changes to your home’s exterior appearance. Start by cutting the grass, trimming the hedges and clearing away any clutter. Then, for less than $50, you could put up new house numbers, paint the front door, plant some flowers or install a new, more stylish porch light.

Myth No. 3: If my house is clean, I don’t need to stage my home.

Truth: Clean and tidy is a good first step, but as more and more home sellers across the country have enlisted the services of professional home stagers, the bar has risen. It’s not enough anymore to toss dirty laundry in the closet and sweep the front steps.

Stagers strive to make homes appeal to a broad range of tastes. They can skillfully identify ways to highlight your home’s best features and compensate for its shortcomings. A stager might, for example, recommend removing blinds from a window that has a great view or replacing a double bed with a twin to make a bedroom look bigger. It’s common for stagers to de-clutter and depersonalize homes by putting furniture and family photos into storage. Or, if you’ve already moved out, a stager can move in furniture to give potential buyers a sense of how rooms might be used.

You don’t have to hire a professional stager. But if you don’t, you better be ready to use some of their tactics to get your home ready for sale.

If staging is a trend where you live, an unstaged house will pale when compared to others on the market. And if staging is not yet something buyers in your area are used to seeing, your results will be even more impressive.

Myth No. 4: Granite and stainless steel appliances are no longer “in.”

Truth: The majority of home shoppers still want granite counters and stainless steel appliances.Quartz, marble and concrete counters also have wide appeal.

granite_398 w valentino st meridian id

Granite countertops are still highly desirable.

“Most shoppers just want to steer away from anything that looks dated,” says Dru Bloomfield, a real estate agent with the Realty ONE Group in Scottsdale, AZ. “When you a design a space, you need to decide: ‘Am I doing this for myself or for resale?’ If you’re not planning to move anytime soon, you can decorate any way you like. If it’s likely your house will be going on the market within the next couple years, stick to elements that have mass appeal: neutral paint and tile colors, matching appliances or top-of-the line appliances.
“I recently sold a house where the kitchen had been remodeled 12 years ago and everybody thought it had just been done because the owners had chosen timeless elements: dark maple cabinets, granite counters and stainless appliances.”

Myth No. 5: Home shoppers can look past paint colors they don’t like.

Truth: Moving is a lot of work and, while many home buyers realize they could take on the task of painting walls, they simply don’t want to.

That’s why one of the most important things you can do to update your home is to apply a fresh coat of neutral paint. Neutral colors also help a property standout in online photographs – which is where most potential buyers will get their first impression of your property.

Hiring a professional to paint the interior of a 2,000 square-foot house likely will cost $3,000 to $6,000, depending upon labor costs in your region. You could buy the paint and do the job yourself for $300 to $500. Either way, if a fresh coat of paint helps your home stand out in a crowded market, it’s probably a worthwhile investment.

How to Get Multiple Offers on Your Home





How to Get Multiple Offers on Your Home


Buyers in any market look for perceived value. Homes priced 10 percent (or more) over their market value won’t get noticed. Pricing isn’t an exact science, and it’s nearly impossible to pin a precise number to a home until buyer and seller sign a contract and close. Then, the price officially becomes the home’s market value. Until that time, agents can provide sellers with a value range. Have a good location? Does your home show well? Are you in a strong sellers’ market? Price your home on the bottom of that price range and you’ll be sure to attract buyers — and possibly multiple offers.

Buyers in any market look for perceived value. Homes priced 10 percent (or more) over their market value won’t get noticed. Pricing isn’t an exact science, and it’s nearly impossible to pin a precise number to a home until buyer and seller sign a contract and close. Then, the price officially becomes the home’s market value. Until that time, agents can provide sellers with a value range. Have a good location? Does your home show well? Are you in a strong sellers’ market? Price your home on the bottom of that price range and you’ll be sure to attract buyers — and possibly multiple offers.Homeowners hear that the real estate market has finally turned a corner and assume that means multiple offers and bidding wars are back. Even if your town is buzzing with real estate activity and sales are picking up, it doesn’t mean that you’re guaranteed multiple offers, or even one offer for that matter. For a seller to get lots of activity on their listing, there are three must-haves: location, price and presentation.

Must have a good location

One thing is common among all properties that receive multiple offers these days: the home is in a good location. Location is nearly always what drives homebuyers in their search. Before considering price, number of bedrooms or size of home, a buyer looks for location.

If your home is on a busy street, not in the best school district or near a freeway on/off ramp, chances are you won’t receive the kind of activity that a well-located home would. In that case, work closely with your agent to price the home correctly.

Must be priced right

Buyers in any market look for perceived value. Homes priced 10 percent (or more) over their market value won’t get noticed. Pricing isn’t an exact science, and it’s nearly impossible to pin a precise number to a home until buyer and seller sign a contract and close. Then, the price officially becomes the home’s market value. Until that time, agents can provide sellers with a value range. Have a good location? Does your home show well? Are you in a strong sellers’ market? Price your home on the bottom of that price range and you’ll be sure to attract buyers — and possibly multiple offers.

Must show well

A generation ago, sellers simply did some deep cleaning and maybe some de-cluttering before their first open house. Presentation wasn’t as important then as it is today, given online listings. More buyers today develop an emotional connection to a home. They want to imagine themselves in your home and not feel like they’re a guest. What does that mean? Appeal to the masses. If you have a good location and you plan to price your home realistically, then you need to make sure you give buyers what they want. If you can afford it, make cosmetic upgrades; invest in some staging and work to turn your home into a “product.” Emotionally disconnect from your home and try to see it more objectively.

Plan on having the home in perfect condition for the photo shoot. A buyer’s first impression of your home likely will be via the Internet or an email from their agent. Make them want to step inside. The more buyers you attract to your home, the more activity.

Know your market

Don’t assume that national trends apply to your region, city or neighborhood. If you’re not in a strong sellers’ market or you spend a fortune on last-minute upgrades, you could be in for a giant surprise. Just because you hear about bidding wars and multiple offers on the national news doesn’t mean that applies to your market. For example, while properties in San Francisco may receive multiple offers, a town like Port Chester, NY, still sees short sales and homes often spend many days on the market.

Work with a good local agent. A local agent has likely toured all the nearby homes for sale as well as ones that have sold over the past six months to a year. Knowing those homes, having walked inside and personally knowing the agents who have sold them matters. This is market data that an outsider just doesn’t have access to. This knowledge empowers good local agents to educate their sellers.


More Banks Lower FICO Score Requirements


More Banks Lower FICO Score Requirements


More banks are lowering minimum FICO score requirements in an attempt to shore up lending for underserved borrowers.

Carrington Mortgage Services is the latest company to announce that it has lowered its minimum FICO score to 550. It also has expanded guidelines on several FHA, VA, and USDA loan programs to aid those with FICO scores below 640.

Wells Fargo, the nation’s largest mortgage lender, said in February that it was lowering its minimum FICO score requirements on FHA-backed mortgages from 640 to 600. The move, bank officials said, was aimed at “opening up our credit box more.”

One in three consumers have a FICO score below 650, according to Carrington. The lender is refocusing its business on targeting the underserved segment and eliminating conventional and jumbo loans. It is limiting its acceptance of wholesale submissions with FICO scores above 680 starting April 1, except for VA loans, HousingWire reports.

“Effectively meeting the needs of clients in the underserved market requires the ability to both originate quality loans and appropriately service them after the fact,” says Ray Brousseau, executive vice president of Carrington’s mortgage lending division. “Both Carrington’s lending platform and specialty servicing business were created to serve this particular market segment. That uniquely positions us as the lender of choice for this population of borrowers and the mortgage brokers and real estate agents who work with them. Our message is clear: You can count on Carrington to serve the underserved and get the tough loans done right.”

Spring Storage Solutions

Biggest Home Organization Trends

Spring is here, which means it’s time to get organized. This season, homeowners are spending less on big projects and are focusing on smaller-scale home renovation plans. According to the latest Zillow Digs Home Design Trend Report, built-in cabinets, cubbies with baskets or trays and repurposed antique furniture are the biggest home organization trends.

Call Washington Homes Group for home staging and decluttering ideas www.washingtonhg.com  202-719-0078.

To learn more about this season’s hottest storage trends, we asked Zillow Digs Board of Designersmember and design expert Mara Miller of Carrier & Company Interiors in New York to help solve three spring storage myths. Check out her surprising tips below.

Myth No. 1: Built-ins have to be custom

builtin 3

Photo credit: J. Schwartz, LLC Remodeling

The Reality: Save your dollars for other remodels. You can find great premade options at hardware stores that when painted can look just as beautiful as a custom built-in.

Mara reminds homeowners not to reinvent the wheel when installing built-ins. Instead, Mara recommends that remodelers “look at the simplest stock options available” that will give you a custom look without breaking the bank. Your local hardware store is a great place for premade cabinets or mass-cut wood pieces for built-ins. “Try painting the wood to match your trim or molding color to make the unit look as if it’s always been there,” says Mara.

Myth 2: Cubbies and open shelves don’t offer adequate storage space


Photo credit: California Closets

The Reality: Cubbies and open shelves offer great storage space, just be sure to select quality storage containers

Cubbies provide ample storage; just make sure to choose your storage containers carefully.  “Selecting your accessories are often more important than the furniture themselves,” says Mara. Maximize storage with beautiful trays and baskets, which are perfect for those less visually appealing items such as electronics or other knick knacks. Be sure to “shop around for good containers that are attractive in and of themselves,” advises Mara, as open shelves and cubbies leave little to the imagination.

Myth 3: I need to invest time and money in refurbishing antiques


Photo credit: Design Development NYC

The Reality: Don’t invest in a complete overhaul. Antiques are supposed to look vintage, that’s what makes them unique.  

“Fully refurbishing an antique is when you do the most damage,” says Mara. In general, it’s best to do less, not more when working with antiques. You can maximize storage by adding in shelves or rods for linens and coats. But be conscious of the “furniture’s age and history – it’s not supposed to be modern and shiny,” reminds Mara. The more character the better!


Twelve easy tips for decluttering your home

Washington Homes Group




Twelve easy tips for decluttering your home

Show more closet space, bigger rooms, more counter top space

Think about what you look for when you are shopping for a new house.

More closet space, bigger rooms, more counter top space in the kitchen just to name a few.

Buyers coming to see your home want to see that and more.

First, it’s important for buyers to see that the home has plenty of storage space.

Second, when buyers tour an organized, decluttered home it gives the impression that the home is well cared for.

Follow these 12 steps before putting your home on the market.

1. Clear off the kitchen counters.

Take everything off the kitchen counters that you don’t use every day. Also, hide away dish soap and sponges (Buyers don’t want to think about washing dishes. They want to dream about entertaining in your gorgeous kitchen.) Add one pretty decorative item to the kitchen counters and you’re done.

2. Take everything off the fridge.

Personal photos, magnets, and sticky notes all should be cleared away. That includes anything that’s being stored on top of the refrigerator.

3. Start boxing up kitchen items.

Buyers often focus on kitchen cabinet space, so you don’t want cabinets to be packed. To avoid this problem, simply look through your kitchen cabinets and take any item you don’t use on a regular basis and box it up.

4. Recycle old electronics.

If you have antiquated computer and printer, cell phones, and the like in your home office, stop by Best Buy, where they’ll recycle these items for free.

5. Donate

If you have excess furniture or household items that you don’t want,  You can usually find someone who needs these items and will pick them up for free.

6. Look for hazardous waste day.

Most towns periodically have a hazardous waste day when you can bring in old paint, pesticides, medications, and other items that aren’t safe to throw in the trash bin.

7. Clear off the bathroom counters.

Your master bath should feel luxurious to buyers, like a hotel suite. Stow away personal care products under the counter or in a little basket in the closet. This way they’re easily accessible to you but are out of the way when buyers are touring your home.

8. Put away personal photos as well as political and religious items.

Think about having your home look “magazine ready”.  Personal items only serve to distract a buyer. We want them to focus on the beautiful details of your home, not on your family photos. We want them to envision themselves living there.

9. Put away off season  clothes.

Box up clothing, shoes, and accessories to create more space in your closets. Rent a storage space if needed.

10. Organize your master bedroom closet.

Arrange clothing based on type and color, it’s an easy way to make the space look roomy and organized.

11. Purchase new bedding.

New bed covers and pillows create a fresh look for the bedrooms and new clean towels for the bathroom help make a great first impression.

12.Clear out garage and basement.

These two rooms are often overlooked. The garage and basement are catch all rooms and take up valuable storage space. Donate, discard or pack up for the move.

Buying in a Competitive Real Estate Market

Buying in a Competitive Real Estate Market 









By Tracy Tkac

Washington Homes Group



The Washington, DC area housing market is quite competitive right now due to lack of inventory and pent up demand. Home sellers located in the closer-in communities to the city and many homes located in the city are receiving multiple offers for the sale of their home.

Preparation is the key to submitting the winning offer for your new home and buying in a competitive real estate market.

The components to a successful offer to purchase include;

  • Contract of Sale (including buyer signed disclosures provided by the seller)
  • Preapproval Letter
  • Financial Information Sheet
  • Earnest Money Deposit
  • (Possibly) Escalation Clause


Get Preapproved

Getting preapproved is a must when you’re in a competitive real estate market. Sellers look for the most qualified (and most likely to complete the sale) buyer. Not having a preapproval will severely hinder your ability to move quickly and make an offer when you find the house you would like to own.


Work with an Experienced Buyer’s Agent

Most people think that working directly with the listing agent will give them an edge in getting a property, but this isn’t the case because listing agents have a fiduciary duty to the seller. You wouldn’t think of going to court and relying on the opposition’s lawyer for advice. Buyer’s agents work for the best interests of the buyer; a buyer’s agent will guide you in locating the property and strategizing and negotiating the terms of purchase for your best result in purchasing your home and if a property is listed in the multiple listing system, the commission is paid by the. seller.



If you’re interested in a property, you need to be there within 24 to 48 hours of the time it hits the market. If you’ve seen the house and you’re ready to buy, you should make your offer as soon as possible.


Make Your Offer Appealing

When there is competition for a single property, your offer has to be impressive.

Come in with your highest and best offer. Make an offer that is at least at market value, if not more. Consider using an escalation clause, which is a tool that makes your offer price increase to an amount predetermined by you in increments called “the escalator”, the sales price could escalate by those increments to the escalation ceiling; the top price you are willing to pay. It will only come into play if the completing offer(s) are higher than your original offer and the listing agent will have to prove the offering prices by sharing them with your agent and you before utilizing the escalating clause. 

Let the seller know you’re flexible.  Give the seller some appealing terms like; flexibility of occupancy, shortened inspection periods and the settlement date of the seller’s choice.

Don’t ask for seller concessions. 

Keep in mind that these tips don’t necessarily apply to all homes. Whether it’s due to the property, the pricing, or the area you’re interested in, some homes might not have as much competition. If you’re educated about the market, however, you’ll be able to spot when there’s competition and when there isn’t, and that can make all the difference in how you approach the sale.

Internet Marketing for Sellers

Strategic Marketing – Internet Marketing for Sellersbannerheader3

by Lindy Gelb


Washington Homes Group

Research tells us that 92% of buyers are on the internet searching for their next home even if they are working with an agent. They are sending a list to their agent of the homes they would like to see in person. We cast a very wide net to not only reach all potential buyers on all the top websites, but to generate our own buyers. Internet marketing for sellers is a very important aspect of selling your home in todays market.


Your home will be widely advertised on the Internet as well as print publications. Listings will automatically appear on the following sites:


www.eversco.com  Our Company website

www.washingtonpost.com  All open houses will be listed on this site



Backpage classified ad syndication for real estate. Your property will be on the following sites;







Facebook Fan Page, we have hundreds of fans who will see your home when it is listed.

Our marketing includes outstanding descriptions of your home, professional grade photographs and a true panoramic virtual tour that we upload as a video to YouTube, full color fact sheets and more.


Sell your Chevy Chase or Bethesda Home

Get Ready, Get Set, Sell Your Home!

Now is the time to get ready.

If you’re considering selling your home in 2014, the time for action is- NOW!

By Tracy Tkac


Why Now? Because buyers are already on the hunt.  


The Internet is the new curb appeal
Last month will likely be remembered for record breaking cold temperatures, polar vortexes, lots of snow, and horrible traffic jams. All the while when home buyers were sitting home inside and trying to stay warm, they were looking at houses for sale on the Internet.

If you’re considering selling, now is the time to sell your Chevy Chase or Bethesda home. If your home is not yet online, then every day you’re missing out on thousands (or even millions) of potential buyers viewing your home.

Even more incentive for buyers
Spring is coming, and that is certainly driving a lot of the interest in homes currently listed for sale. But there are other factors at play.

Mortgage rates have declined over the past month and are currently trending back toward 4% for traditionally structured, well qualified loans. This is a significant development for buyers, as interest rates are a huge driver of home affordability.

For example, a traditional 30 year, $600,00 mortgage at 4.5% would have a monthly payment of $2,700. If rates declined to 4.25%, the payment would change to $2,550.

For borrowers on the edge of qualifying for a mortgage, that $150 per month savings could make the difference between getting a loan approval or not.

For buyers, the time is now!
Buy low and sell high, right? For buyers, the time to buy low is quickly ending, creating a sense of urgency to buy now before prices rise too high or interest rates return to more historically normal levels.

Get ReadyGo!
The spring selling season will be in full swing sooner than you think. Rates are low, there is urgency to buy now, and buyers are already coming out of their winter slumber. If you’re planning to sell you home in 2014, you need to be ready now. Don’t miss out on the perfect, well-qualified buyer because you waited a moment too long and Sell Your Bethesda Home!


301-437-8722/ 202-364-1700 Real Estate Professional Licensed in Maryland, Virginia & Washington, DC