Saturday, January 30, 2010

What's your "Jersey Shore" nickname?

I know..I know.. I shouldn't love this show as much as I do.  I have no business watching MTV at my age but I love bad TV.  I especially love bad TV on MTV.  But I am officially obsessed.  It cracks me up EVERY time I watch it.  The hair, the accents, the clothes!!  I already know I'm going to be Snookie for Halloween.  

Meanwhile, I've been amusing myself by thinking about my "Jersey Shore" nickname.  Jen "Squatty Body" Angotti?  That's an oldie but goodie that my Dad and brother have used forever.  Or should it be Jen "The Meatball" Angotti?   There's infinite, entertaining possibilities.  

(photo by MTV)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

San Francisco

It rained...a lot.  Of course I picked the one weekend that CA was have torrential downpours, flooding and mudslides.  The weather sucked but it didn't stop us from enjoying the city.

I hadn't visited in 11 years.  My husband had never been to CA so we had fun exploring the various neighborhoods.  We adjusted our plans to less walking outside and hit more museums.  We checked out the SF Moma and the De Young.  We also ate ungodly amounts of good food.  The restaurant scene in SF is amazing!

The place that impressed me most was Ferry Plaza.  Ferry Plaza (view from Ferry Plaza shown above on the one sunny day of our trip) is an indoor farmer's market that always houses a certain number of vendors.  On the weekends it expands to outside as well.  It puts Eastern Market to shame.  I mean really DC..get OVER the stupid food rules!  Let us have decent food carts and an expanded, cooler Eastern Market.

This is the Roli Roti truck, one of the outdoor eating options on the weekend.  It was mob scene.   Are you looking at the porchetta???  It was insanely good.  This would be a HUGE hit here as well.  But mobile porchetta sandies for the DC crowds.

I did not have the opportunity to see any real estate while visiting SF.  It was too rainy to bop around various neighborhoods and look at price points.  I did read a great article in the SF Chronicle that said the average home price in SF is 715K.  I knew SF was as expensive as DC but DAMN.  Really expensive while situated on one of the biggest faults in the natural world?  I could live in SF but earthquakes scare me.  But so do terrorist attacks and I still live here.   

As always, it was good to get out of town.  I didn't have to work too much this mini vacation and that's always a bonus.  Both of the clients I mentioned in my last post ratified contracts.  Wahoo!  It's a great way to begin 2010.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Busy bee

Sorry readers for the lack of posts but I've been swamped the last few days.  I have two clients that are interested in writing contracts.  One was submitted yesterday (fingers crossed!)  The other has a few details to be worked out before we write.  Phew..great start to 2010! 

It also could be because I'm going to San Francisco (SF) on Wed. for my husband's birthday.  It was my birthday gift to him and I'm really excited that I can take him there.  He's never been to CA.  One of my friend's from high school has lived in SF since college so we're also getting some local guidance.  I'm so excited!  I haven't visited in 10 years so I'm curious to see the city again through real estate eyes.  Stay tuned for pics. 

Meanwhile, Montgomery County has put a "hold" on the short sale initiative.  Ya think?  I'm sure there were howls of outrage up and down 495.  Short sales are bad enough.  If that initiative passes, they'll be 100 times worse.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Changes 'a foot part 2

We just got a bulletin from GCAAR (Greater Capitol Area Association of Realtors) about a big change to MD legislation regarding short sales.  Reason #102 that I'm not licensed in MD.  WHO thinks of this stuff?  Check out what they sent us:

"On Friday, January 8, the Montgomery County Finance Department's Transfer Office put forth a memo regarding how they process and charge recordation and transfer taxes on Short Sale Transactions.  The position the County has taken has caused some grave confusion and concerns for many in the real estate industry because it is contrary to how short sale transactions have been charged recordation and transfer taxes to date.  The following is the excerpt from the County's memo:

  • We tax on the unpaid principal balance of the mortgage as if the excess debt over and above the sale price is being waived/cancelled.
  • We will rely on your assertion of the unpaid principal balance and WILL NOT typically require a copy of a payoff statement or a seller's last mortgage bill.
  • We will tax on the Short Sale price ONLY IF evidence is presented to us that the excess debt over and above the sale price is being paid off by the debtor or pursued by the lender.
GCAAR as well as the Maryland Association of REALTORS® (MAR) have taken the position that this interpretation of the Maryland State law is clearly against the plain language, which states that the taxes can ONLY be charged on the amount of "consideration."  It has always been our understanding that consideration is interpreted to mean the sales price.  Therefore, on short sales, the taxes paid should not include the amount of the mortgage not being paid off. 
GCAAR is working directly with MAR since this is an interpretation of Maryland state law.  We are going to be speaking with Montgomery County's Finance Department regarding GCAAR's concerns and how this will put a halt to short sale transactions throughout the county.  MAR is speaking with the state legislators to look into the possibility of an Attorney General's opinion on the law or a possible legislative change and/or codification of the current law. 
If you have any questions, please contact Meredith Weisel, VP of Public Policy for Maryland at"

Changes 'a foot

The first week of 2010 proved interesting.  I learned that the new RESPA changes are going to be a total pain in the neck.  I also learned that Fannie/Freddy are no longer accepting loans with a debt to income ratio over 45%.  Previously, there was no maximum on debt to income ratio.  This is going to be a huge change and one that's going to be brutal when qualifying potential clients for a loan.  Both of these factors are going to make business REALLY fun this year.  *sigh*

Inventory is increasing gradually and people seem to be shopping despite the 30 degree weather.  Usually Janaury is dead but so far it's been somewhat brisk.  3 of the properties I viewed with clients in the last 2 weeks have already gone under contract.  1 had only been on the market for 4 days.  Another went on the market the day before Christmas.  That's pretty impressive considering the time of year, weather, and general economic reports.  Once again, I'm glad I live in DC!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

elfa Sale!

If you've ever been a client, you'll know that I'm obsessed with closet systems.  Why?  I have a lot of stuff and I need places to put it.  I'm also organized so having a place for all the stuff makes me happy.  It's also an improvement you can make to your home that doesn't cost a lot but helps with resale.

When we purchased our condo, I immediately went to The Container Store and bought their elfa organization system for our walk-in closet and our office.  Although I have continuing issues with measurements (who knew you had to note if the door opened in or out?), I instantly loved them.

When we installed hardwoods in our bedrooms, I started thinking about installing elfa in all of our closets.  Thankfully, The Container Store has an elfa sale twice a year.  Currently, the sale is  running until Feb. 19th. 

Pictured at the left is my hall closet.  We didn't do much to this closet except add another shelf.  It allowed me to store the extra paint and tools off the floor of the closet.  It might not look organized to you but it's infinitely better than before.   I LOVE elfa!!