Tag: residential appraisal

Listing Shortage!!!

Already this year we have seen a shortage in the supply of homes on the market. With the beginning of the spring season upon us buyers are waiting with bated breath ready to pounce on the purchase of their new home. Comparing active listings from last March (2016) to this March (2017) in the Baltimore Metro Area housing market (which includes the City of Baltimore, Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County and Howard County) the results are undeniable. The number of active listings declined by 15.8% to 9,453, the 19th consecutive month of declining year-over-year inventory levels and the lowest March levels in a decade.

Although this listing shortage seems to be problematic for buyers, there is an upside for the sellers. The basics of supply and demand states that when the demand for real estate is high, prices rise. When the number of available properties increases, prices usually drop. With anxious buyers waiting in the winds, a beneficial opportunity presents itself for the sellers.

With a shortage of homes in the market the homes typically spend less time on the open market with sellers receiving quick  offers close to the list price and some even higher to ensure the offer is accepted. The average percentage of original list price received at sale in March was 95.1%, the highest March level in a decade, exceeding the previous high set in March 2014 and 2013 of 93.2%. The median days-on-market was 42 days, down from 63 days last year, and at the lowest level in a decade.

Due to listing shortage, the homes that are available on the market are getting scooped up. Sales across the Baltimore Metro area was up 21.7% from last year to $923.8 million. March closed sales of 3,288 were up 16.8% compared to last year and set a record high for the decade.

This data was compiled by the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) data in MarketStats by ShowingTime’s database based on listing activity from MRIS (Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, Inc.).The Baltimore Metro Area housing market includes the City of Baltimore, Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County and Howard County in Maryland.

Low inventory, a strong demand for homes and springtime are a wonderful combination for a seller’s market. This is coupled with the fact the homes are typically on the market for less time than past years and the increase in sales makes this one of the best times to sell…in almost a decade! Listing inventory has not been this low in the peak spring season in quite a long time, if you are a seller or thinking about selling, this may be the best time to put your home on the market.

Interest rates, global events, inflation and tax reform are just a few economic variables that could help or hinder the future of the real estate market. The real estate market is constantly changing but the current storm of circumstances puts the seller in an advantageous position, one that may not last very long.

The New Home Dilemma

Buying new construction has decision making every step of the way…what floor plan to choose, what options, what trends will last and should I wait and upgrade that myself rather than paying the builder such a premium? From an appraisal perspective the viewpoint is a bit different: our job is to prove that the price of the newly constructed home is supported by the neighborhood and area. The largest hurdle in appraising a newly constructed property is when the dwelling is the smallest in the neighborhood with the most amount of upgrades. Typically there is an average amount of options the typical purchaser chooses within the dwelling (upgraded cabinets, flooring, sunroom, luxury master bathroom, etc.) and then there are the buyers that want ever bell, whistle and customization that the model home has and then some. Couple the vast amount (and large price tag) for all of these options and the fact it is within the smallest floor plan available….this is not a good combination. A property like this one runs the risk of being over improved for the neighborhood and has a good probability of having difficulty with the appraisal. The contract price needs to be supported by other homes of similar design and SIZE with the presence of upgrades: keep in mind that not all upgrades will give you a return on your investment. There is a ceiling to the amount of upgrades that the typical buyer will pay, diminishing returns is how we express that there will be a limited return on the additional improvement cost beyond what is typical. As the upgrades go beyond the typical amount the return on the added investment will continue to decline.

 

So, keep in mind, don’t over-customize. Of course, new home buyers want their homes to reflect their personal style and taste. But, it’s important to consider the resale value, as well. While it’s important to make your house satisfy your needs and tastes, just realize not all upgrades will give you a return on your investment.

 

Some features that are good investments are upgrades that will make your kitchen the star of the show. These upgrades include: large center islands with seating and storage, under counter lighting, backsplash, stainless steel appliances and granite countertops (though these have now become standard in many new kitchens).  Another suggestion from an appraisal standpoint is you can never go wrong by adding square footage: it is more effective to pay the builder to make the home larger (bump outs, sun room or great room) while the property is being erected verses being remorseful at a later date wishing you had that extra square footage.

 

Industry experts suggest not putting your upgrade dollars toward these options: specialty driveways, high-end plumbing features and jetted soaking tubs. Cosmetic features in particular, such as paint, landscaping, lighting fixtures, epoxy garage flooring, crown molding, chair rails, window treatments and even certain appliance upgrades can often be made after the closing, particularly by homeowners who have a budget.

 

Remember that the model home you fell in love with may have thousands of dollars of options and that the base home may look very different. With so many upgrades and options available, it’s hard to stay focused on building your dream home. Stay on track to satisfy your needs and tastes but remember a lot of the upgrades can be added to your home after it is purchased. This delayed gratification could be good for your budget and your overall future return on your investment.

Housing Trends in Baltimore

We have all watched the programs on HGTV to see the transformation of an old space revamped, renovated or remodeled into a new modern space that reflects the current housing trends that yield the highest payoff or return. Awe struck by the change that the properties undergo in a seemingly short time span (in TV world) is inspiring and makes us come back for more. Trends vary depending on the location of the home and the demographics of the area: the choices made after determination of demand in the market would allow the potential to maximize the return on investment and/or appraised value. For instance, Baltimore City and Baltimore County buyers share some popular housing trends but there are trends that are specific to the opposing areas. The two following trends will be highlighted to reflect the differences in the trends and demographics.

Housing Trends in Baltimore

The Rooftop Deck

Where most homes downtown have very small to no backyards, the rooftop deck is a great solution for enjoying the outdoors. Outdoor spaces are essential to most buyers regardless of age. Baltimore City does rank fourth in the nation among cities that are attracting young adults. The combination of a growing job market and relatively low prices compared to other major cities is leading many young professionals to purchase their first homes in Baltimore. One of the leading amenities requested in a Baltimore City townhome/rowhome is a rooftop deck. A popular tradition with Baltimoreans is watching the fireworks over the Inner Harbor from a rooftop deck on July 4th. The rooftop deck can offer water views of the harbor and spectacular panoramic views of the city skyline. The Millennials are flooding Baltimore City for opportunity and their young legs are conducive to flights of stairs leading to the roof. On the flip side Baby Boomers, another demographic with huge purchasing power, are shying away from flights of stairs due to bad knees, bad hips ailing joints and overall aging physiques….getting older is not for the faint at heart.

The In-Law Suite

While the Baby Boomer generation is getting older we see more multi generational families living under the same roof. There are more than 50 million American families having multiple generations under one roof and Baltimore County is tapping into this trend. Homes with “in-law suites“, extra kitchens, multiple master suites, a guest house and/or an accessory unit are offering flexibility when it comes to aging family members. With the rising cost of nursing homes, this multi generational living could be beneficial to all parties. If you are planning to build onto your existing home every town (and in most cases,every neighborhood)have different rules when it comes to adding on to a property. Find out what is possible through a meeting with the building inspector or planning department in your town and they will be able to say what is allowed when building onto your property. Another sector of the aging population prefer to preserve their independence and choose a manageable home for future years. A ranch style home where everything is accessible on one floor and allows opportunity for independence for years to come.  For the “active adult” there are also age-restricted communities , generally for people 55 and over where maintenance is generally provided and residents live among their peers. Most are rich with attractions to include pools, golf courses and a spa.

Baltimore City trends are typically geared to a younger buyer while Baltimore County buyers have a wider range of demographics and demands regarding trends. Among the many trends, the two trends noted above were used to reflect the differences in trends and demographics in Baltimore City and Baltimore County. Now, let’s take a look at some other housing trends that buyers are looking for in the current marketplace:

The Open Concept Floor Plan

The main attraction of an open floor plan is the great room, which combines the living and dining rooms into a larger area that is still in view of the kitchen. Whereas traditional floor plans are divided by interior walls, the lack of walls in open designs creates a visually larger space, and more of it can be used at any given time because it is very flexible.

Quartzite

While granite still appeals, quartzite is becoming the new hot contender, thanks to its reputation as a natural stone that’s virtually indestructible. It also more closely resembles the most luxurious classic—marble—without the drawbacks of staining easily. Quartzite is moving ahead of last year’s favorite, quartz, which is also tough but is man made.

Return to Human Scale

During the McMansion craze, kitchens and homes got so big they almost required skates to get around. The trend is to scale back and return to a more human, comfortable size. Buyers now seem to prefer efficiency and location over square footage.

Smart Homes

There is no escaping technology, it looks to be at your doorstep ready to take over! Touch screen appliances, thermostats controlled by your smart phone from any location, automated lighting system, ismart alarms and vehicle detection are just a few of the trends in this exponentially growing industry of tech products made available to the consumer.

 

Drooling over current trends splattered all over mainstream television is eye catching and tempting. Keep in mind your budget, restrictions and future goals before any project. If you are debating an addition or a move to another residence Robinson Appraisal Group can help with your current value or the market value of a possible new residence. We would love the opportunity to assist you.

FANNIE MAE 2016

What does Fannie Mae have in store for 2016? Fannie Mae is a billion dollar entity that does not directly offer mortgage loans but instead buy the mortgages from banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions so that they, in … read more

Appraising Real Estate in Baltimore City

Appraising properties in real estate is tricky business for real estate appraisers. The vast value range, emerging markets, government housing and rehabilitation projects are just a few things a Baltimore City appraiser encounters when navigating the proper choice of comparable sales when determining the appraised value of a Baltimore City property. With more Millennials and empty-nesters moving downtown, there’s a renewed interest in the urban living experience causing an increase in appraisal work.

Lending institutions are quite cautious when reviewing a Baltimore City appraisal. Often values differ block to block depending on location of the water, monuments, parks, etc. The distance between the comparable properties and the subject property within an appraisal are highly scrutinized. Part of this scrutiny stemmed from the Baltimore City flipping scandal. With such diversity in value within a small radius due to the density of homes allow a large pool of settled sales to choose from. It is unethical, criminal and against appraisal practices to inflate the values of properties.

HB 521, a bill passed by the state legislature in the wake of the so-called “flipping scandal” of the 1990s, created a database of property appraisals in Baltimore City. Since 2003, every home appraisal done in the city was supposed to be given to the Department of Housing and Community Development, to be kept in files in case investigators ever needed to track down and investigate suspicious appraisers and/or lending practices.

Charm City is a city that bounces back regardless of setbacks. There are more than 40 homebuyer incentives that people could potentially qualify for when buying a home in the Baltimore City. They range from $1,000 to $30,000. These are for primary residents, not investors and you can stack them if you quality for more than one. You can go to http://livebaltimore.com/financial-incentives to learn more.

It is not only traditional buyers that are getting into Baltimore City real estate, even developers are turning a number of historic buildings in downtown Baltimore into amenity filled apartments. 26 S Calvert Street features a rooftop deck and mini basketball court, and 10 Light Street is a building that Metropolitan Partnership is turning into 400 luxury apartments.

With the growing demand of real estate in Baltimore City this leads the appraisal community with a responsibility for quality appraisal reports within lender guidelines that follow uniform standard appraisal practices.

Charm City is becoming more charming each year with expansion, renovation and opportunity. Robinson Appraisal Group can help you with all of your appraisal needs. Our services include estate appraisals, conventional appraisals and FHA appraisals to name only a few. Our office does a multitude of reports for the Baltimore County, Baltimore City, Harford County, Cecil County, Carroll County, Anne Arundel County and Howard County areas. We look forward to helping you in the future with an appraisal for your Baltimore City property. As our Baltimorean counterparts would say, Thanks, Hon!

Conventional Renovation/Rehab Loan

A prior article noted the characteristics of the FHA 203K but there is also a renovation loan with conventional financing known as Fannie Mae Homestyle Renovation. This is a conventional or non-FHA insured loan for both home buyers and home owners needing funds to rehab or remodel a property. A Homestyle renovation loan can be used to both purchase a property or refinance a property already owned.

The HomeStyle® Renovation Mortgage allows you to buy a home and repair or improve it with just one loan. You can also use it as a refinancing tool to refinance an existing mortgage and borrow funds for the improvement or repairs to the home you currently own. Funds used for renovation under this program are capped at 50% of the completed value of the home. The loan
amount is based on the “as-completed” value of the home rather than the present value.

The HomeStyle Renovation (HSR) mortgage provides a convenient and economical way for borrowers considering moderate home improvements to make repairs and renovations with a single-close first mortgage, rather than a second mortgage,home equity line of credit, or other, more costly methods of financing.

Renovations must be completed by an approved, third-party contractor. You cannot use a renovation loan to do your own remodeling. You will make full, principal+interest payments both during and after the renovation. Renovation must be completed within 6 months of the closing date, and you cannot use the program for renovations already in progress. These are standard underwriting guidelines for conventional renovation mortgages. They are valid only for primary residences and 2nd homes.

Fannie Mae sets the maximum loan amount for conventional loans each year. The minimum loan size is $50,000. Funds for the renovation cannot exceed 50% of the estimated completed value of the home. Renovation cost must be documented by a fully executed third-party builder contract.

As noted in the prior article the standard FHA 203(k) program, the borrower hires a consultant to assess the construction plan and to perform an inspection before each draw is made. A “draw” happens when a portion of the money is disbursed to the contractor. Borrowers have up to six months to finish the project and are allowed up to five draws. The HomeStyle program does not require a consultant to monitor the work, only an initial and final inspection.

Borrowers must choose his or her own contractor to perform the renovation. Lenders must review the contractor hired by the borrower to determine if they are adequately qualified and experienced for the work being performed. Plans and specifications must be prepared by a registered, licensed, or certified general contractor, renovation consultant, or architect. The plans and specifications should fully describe all work to be done and provide an indication of when various jobs or stages of completion will be scheduled (including both the start and job completion dates).

Those who don’t have great credit should probably opt for an FHA 203(k). Most Fannie Mae HomeStyle lenders require a credit score above 660. To get the best rate on a HomeStyle mortgage, borrowers need to have a minimum 740 credit score.

When looking to update that “fixer-upper” purchase or update your existing home be aware of all the programs available to you, it could expand your options when it comes to achieving your real estate goals or updating your existing home!

Become an Appraiser in Maryland

How does someone become an Appraiser in Maryland? To become a real property appraiser, you will need to obtain education and experience, then pass a state-administered licensing or certification exam. One of the best ways to gain experience is to … read more