Prime housing move by Amazon

prime housing
Insight into Amazon (infographic from geekyedge.com)

Amazon is about to make a decision on their “HQ2.”  The highly anticipate decision can be a prime housing move not just for the chosen city, but the region.  As you now know, Montgomery County is on the short list.  Some even have it pegged to be in the top five.  Although many local residents are excited at the prospect of increasing home values, many others are anxious how a Montgomery County Amazon HQ2 will affect their quality of life.

If Amazon chooses Montgomery County, the county will likely see a similar impact that Seattle experienced.  However, rather than be purely speculative, let’s look how Amazon has shaped Seattle.  Stephen Cohen offers interesting statistics looking at how Seattle has changed after Amazon (How Seattle Changed After Amazon Came to Town; seattlepi.com; September 22, 2017).  Cohen points out that Amazon has been based in Seattle since the mid 1990’s, and that the major impact on the town happened when the company moved to the South Lake Union campus (SLU) in 2010.  Since the move, Amazon’s stock price skyrocketed and its market cap exceeded (and has since doubled) that of Walmart.

Cohen’s data goes beyond the pros and cons of having the business giant in the community and compares statistics that span from 2010 to 2017.  During that time, Seattle’s population grew 17.3 percent.  However, it remained as the 18th most populous US city.  Although Seattle followed the national trend of becoming more diverse, its African American population slightly decreased (which was counter the national trend).  Cohen describes Seattle’s population as “skews male,” probably because Amazon’s “workforce is 63 percent male.”

housing
Seattle Case-Shiller home price index (graph from businessinsider.com)

But the home values…Seattle has had one of the hottest and prime housing markets in the country. Seattle’s average home price increases are almost double the national average.  Finding housing in Seattle is very difficult, as the town’s vacancy rate significantly decreased to about half that of the national average.  The city’s median gross rent is 47.6 percent higher than the national average.

Other interesting facts from Cohen’s data…one-person households decreased from about 15 percent to slightly more than 10 percent.  There was a 25.2 percent increase in commuters.  And, the city’s mean household income increased 41.3 percent, which is more than double the national average.

Prime housing is not for everyone.  Cohen cites the sharply increased cost of housing and high cost of living for negatively affected the poor, as well as the middle class.  And although Seattle is the 18th largest US city, it has the third largest homeless population (according to a December 7, 2017 Seattle Times expose “King County homeless population third-largest in U.S.”).

But, Lisa Stiffler reported that Amazon’s philanthropic corporate culture has noticeably changed (What gives? Tech giant Amazon finally boosts its philanthropic rep in its hometown; geekwire.com; December 14, 2016).  She notes that it is evident that employees are volunteering and getting involved with such activities as the Amazon “Non-Profit Expo.”

Seattle’s SLU is described by Stephen Cohen as an “Innovation District,” which is a Brookings Institute term for a “geographic areas where leading-edge anchor institutions and companies cluster and connect with start-ups, business incubators, and accelerators.”  SLU is similar to Montgomery County’s Technology Corridor.  An Amazon move to MoCo’s Tech Corridor would likely dovetail with a $100 million plan to improve I-270 (the infrastructure plan was reported by the Washington Post last April).  Such infrastructure improvements would open up Maryland’s western real estate market, which would ease some of the upward pressure to MoCo’s already tight prime housing market and already increasing home prices.

Copyright© Dan Krell
Google+

If you like this post, do not copy; instead please:
link to the article,
like it on facebook
or re-tweet.

Protected by Copyscape Web Plagiarism Detector
Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Living with a ghost in your home

haunted houseTV shows such as Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures may have glamorized the paranormal, but they may have also made us more aware about the possibility of other-worldly activity in our homes. Increasing reports of ghosts and other phenomenon are due in part to the proliferation of video cameras that document anything living or dead; however, it must be said that many videos asserting ghost activity are very good hoaxes created with readily available professional editing software. Regardless if you’re a believer or not, everyone has an opinion on haunted houses.

Trulia’s House Of Horrors

A recent Trulia poll (infographic at right) revealed how men and women differ about living in a home associated with the paranormal or macabre (Trulia’s House of Horrors; trulia.com; October 13, 2015). Respondents (45% of women and 36% of men) answered that they would prefer to be haunted by a “vengeful ghost” rather than a demon, evil leprechaun, or possessed doll. When asked, 59% of women respondents indicated that they would lose interest in the “perfect” home if they knew the home was a former crime scene; while 47% of men indicated the same. Additionally, 32% of women indicated that they would rule out an otherwise perfect home knowing that a person died there; while 23% of men indicated the same. Apparently, living next to a cemetery was not a detractor from purchasing an otherwise perfect home, according to 61% of the men and 50% of the women who responded.

Ghost or not, the “creep factor” is definitely an issue for many home buyers. So much so that home buyers are turning to services such as DiedInHouse.com to determine if a death occurred in a home they are considering buying. For a fee, DiedInHouse.com will provide a report indicating if a death has occurred and the cause, as well as other information about the home including any reported meth-lab related activity or fire incidents.

Although many alleged haunted homes are old and in many cases have historic significance, new homes can also have ghostly activity. Local historian, Karen Yaffe Lottes, re-tells this story on her blog Montgomery-Ghosts (montgomeryghosts.wordpress.com) about a modern Germantown home where a police officer lived. The officer reported that the house shook and he heard heavy footsteps on the stairs, when putting on “dress blues.” Apparently, the house was built on the site of the farm where Lincoln conspirator, George Atzerodt, was arrested by a uniformed Union soldier – the Union Army uniform was blue. Atzerodt, was subsequently jailed and hanged for his part in the conspiracy. Could Atzerodt still reside on the site where he was apprehended and sent to his demise?

Karen knows a thing or two about local haunted homes, and told me that she uses ghost stories as a medium to tell a history. Along with co-author Dorothy Pugh, years of stories from their “In Search of Ghosts (ISOG)” event at the Montgomery County Historical Society was published as In Search of Maryland Ghosts: Montgomery County (Schiffer Publishing, October 28, 2012).

When asked what to do if paranormal activity is suspected in a home, Karen explained that people try various methods to rid their home of ghosts; some work and some do not. She pointed out that not everyone is uncomfortable with the thought of living with apparitions. Some people actually welcome the spirit to stay; and in some cases ask the ghost to move with them to their next home.

Google+
Copyright © Dan Krell

If you like this post, do not copy; instead please:
reference the article,
like it at facebook
or re-tweet.

Protected by Copyscape Web Plagiarism Detector
Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Stories behind home sales tell of a meaningful history

by Dan Krell
DanKrell.com
© 2013
Google+

housing developmentIt’s entertaining and interesting to take a look at the unusual and extremes of the housing market during the year that just ended. Besides some of the notable sales of this past year, consider the least and most expensive single family homes that sold during 2012. The stories of these two homes go beyond recent sales and economic conditions; they tell a story of suburbanization and the growth Montgomery County.

One of the lowest priced single family homes that sold in Montgomery County during 2012 was a home located on Sigsbee Road in Silver Spring. The home, located in Veirs Mill Village, was listed in the MLS (Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, Inc) by Real Home Services and Solutions, Inc. as a foreclosure and sold for $86,199. Veirs Mill Village, a community that seemed to have its share of foreclosures in recent years, was built as part of the post World War II housing boom.

According to the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration’s “Suburbanization Historic Context and Survey Methodology” (roads.maryland.gov), Veirs Mill Village was one of the largest post war housing developments built in Maryland. There was a housing shortage immediately after World War II, and a scramble ensued to build homes to accommodate returning veterans as well as the quickly growing Federal workforce. Because of the speediness of the construction, neighborhood aesthetics was not a priority; initially, there was little thought to community, commerce, or municipal services. Built to be affordable housing, the community initially attracted young families; the average age was stated to be 21. The completed development consisted of 1,105 four room bungalows, each with a 1948 price of $8,700.

Consider that at the height of the housing market in 2006, the average home sale price in Veirs Mill Village was $390,337 and ranged from $325,000 to $485,000. The average sale price during 2012 was $218,950. And although this home on Sigsbee Road was not expanded from its original 648 sf, it is not uncommon for neighborhood home owners to have expanded these homes over the years.

In contrast, one of the most expensive homes that sold in Montgomery County during 2012 is located on West Lenox Street in Chevy Chase. The 100 year old home sold for $7,050,000. The MLS listing stated that the home, listed by Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc., was built in 1913 and was expanded and renovated in 2006.

real estateAccording to the “Suburbanization Historic Context and Survey Methodology,” the development of Chevy Chase began as part of the suburbanization of Montgomery County of the 1880’s. Although other Montgomery County developments at that time were priced for middle class civil servants (due in part to the Civil Service Act 1883) , Chevy Chase was developed to attract affluent home buyers. Chevy Chase expanded in the 1890’s when a rail line was built to encourage growth in a suburb that was considered inaccessible; and became an established affluent neighborhood when the economy flourished during the 1920’s housing boom.

The MLS listing and sale and sale price information is compiled from Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, Inc. (MRIS.com); the information is not an opinion of value, nor should the information be misconstrued as an appraisal. Additional neighborhood suburbanization and historical information can be found on the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration’s website (roads.maryland.gov).

More news and articles on “the Blog”
Protected by Copyscape Web Plagiarism Detector
This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published in the Montgomery County Sentinel the week of January 7, 2013. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2013 Dan Krell.

Think about the parking before you buy a home

by Dan Krell
Google+
DanKrell.com
© 2012

New HomesIn light of the increased attention of predatory towing in Montgomery County, it’s become apparent that parking is one of those things we often take for granted; parking doesn’t seem to be a consideration until we are hassled about finding a spot to leave our car.  Sure, we may think ahead about parking when we venture downtown or to the metro, but what about when we get home?  Parking can sometimes be a challenge as well as the source of neighbor conflict.  When buying a home, make sure you’re aware of the neighborhood parking conditions.

To ensure that residents have a parking space, many townhome and garden condo communities offer at least one, if not two, reserved parking spaces.  This may sound good, but if your family has multiple cars parking may still be a challenge.  However, if you think parking your extra cars in the unreserved spaces (often labeled “visitor”) solves your problem; consider how many other neighbors who own multiple cars are parking in these spaces as well – which could make the neighborhood feel like you’re parking in a busy downtown area.

Making matters worse, imagine how inconsiderate neighbors or visitors who park in your reserved space can affect your day.  Returning home late in the evening to find an unauthorized car in your reserved space, and no other parking spots available can not only be frustrating but leave you angry and resentful.

Parking issues are not only a phenomenon of high density communities, but can also occur in neighborhoods comprised of single family homes.  Regardless whether you have a driveway or not, off street parking can sometimes be tricky.  Much like the scenario of having an unauthorized car in a reserved parking space: you might encounter situations where people park in your driveway without asking (usually when neighbors have parties), or more often someone blocks the entrance to your driveway making it impossible to leave or enter.

If you’re planning to buy a home, don’t wait until it’s too late to think about parking.  Experts recommend you visit potential homes in the evenings and weekends to see how the parking is impacted when most people are home.  Circumstances that could impact a neighborhood’s parking availability might include recreational and commercial vehicles, as well as a neighbors’ home based businesses.  If you have a chance to interact with some of the neighbors, ask about the parking situation and how the neighborhood copes with parking issues.

Additionally, if you’re considering a home that’s located in a home owners or condo association; the association rules and bylaws are recommended reading.  Familiarize yourself with the rules and bylaws so you know the association parking regulations and how the management company deals with unauthorized vehicles.

In many areas there are parking restricted neighborhoods, like some in Montgomery County MD that are included in the Residential Permit Parking Program, which helps limit non-resident parking in neighborhoods that are impacted by nearby high traffic public areas and facilities.  Ask your real estate agent about obtaining resident and visitor permits as well as asking about the parking situation.

When purchasing a home you should consider the parking conditions, as well as how the neighborhood deals with unauthorized parking.  Many high density communities have strict towing policies, which makes someone think twice about unauthorized parking after being towed.  However, most neighborhoods solely rely on the residents’ thoughtfulness of their neighbors.

More news and articles on “the Blog”
Protected by Copyscape Web Plagiarism Detector
This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published in the Montgomery County Sentinel the week of November 19, 2012. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2012 Dan Krell.

MD home sellers and HOA docs

MD home sellers – be aware of your obligation to provide HOA or condo docs.

by Dan Krell
DanKrell.com
© 2012

townhomesAs time passes, real estate contracts become increasingly lengthy. Both home sellers and buyers are incredulous when they first encounter the many pages of a home sale contract. To put it in perspective for them, I often retell the stories that I have been told about how a time in the past real estate transactions were conducted with one or two page contracts, and sometimes even on just a handshake. To offer some solace to the seller/buyer, I assure them that there is importance to the seemingly endless number of notices and clauses; many notices are reminders to the seller and buyer about their obligations in the transaction.

A good example of the need for such notices is the seller’s obligation to provide the buyer with HOA/condo information and docs. In the past, this obligation was often taken lightly; sellers would often dig out the association rules which they were given when they purchased the home, dust them off and give them to the home buyer; with little expectation that the information would be reviewed.

Unfortunately, this practice is still occasionally being attempted by unknowing sellers and their agents. Several years ago, an agent asserted that an ancient looking manila envelope (that was stained because it was most likely used as a coaster and trivet) that the seller received when they purchased the home fulfilled their obligation to the buyer, even though the information was out of date and incomplete.

Providing up to date and complete documents to the home buyer allows the buyer not only to review the association rules, but also makes them aware of the financial and legal standing of the association.

As a home seller, it’s important for you to understand the need to fulfill your obligation with regard to providing HOA/condo association information, and to do it quickly. The buyer may “cancel” (void) the contract if they do not receive all the required information; and the buyer has a review period (five days to review HOA docs, and seven days to review condo docs), during which they may “cancel” (void) the contract.

Most resale packages that are obtained from HOA/condo associations contain all the documents required, however, it’s still up to you the seller to ensure all the required documents are enclosed in the package. To be more specific, local HOA/condo real estate disclosure forms were recently changed for clarity; including asking the seller to list fees, assessments, association contacts, and other information.

Home buyers are informed consumers; many are aware they are required to receive specific information about the HOA/condo from the home seller. And although the review period for the HOA/condo docs may have been abused by home buyers in the past, during the hectic sellers market when the review period was used as an “out” from making offers on multiple properties; today, home buyers take the review period seriously and many read the docs. You might even get a question or two about the bylaws/rules from an astute home buyer.

If you’re planning a sale of your home that is located within a homeowners association or a condo, you’re obligated to provide the home buyer specific information about your association. Besides your listing agent, who can guide you through the requirements and your obligations; your HOA/condo association and its management company are helpful sources to obtain the necessary information.

More news and articles on “the Blog”
Protected by Copyscape Web Plagiarism Detector
This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published in the Montgomery County Sentinel the week of October 22, 2012. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2012 Dan Krell.