With all due respect, Mr. Trump…

by Dan Krell © 2010

Dear Mr. Trump,

I enjoy watching your interviews and often listen intently to what you have to say. And although, you’ll have to forgive me because I do not follow your hit TV show, “The Apprentice,” I always find your appearances entertaining and sometimes educational. I even caught your recent interview by Joan Rivers (on her TV Land show, “How’d You Get So Rich?”); I’m always intrigued about real estate.

Of course, I can appreciate the point you made during the interview (which is the point you have been making for some time now) – it is a great time to buy real estate.

Mr. Trump, you do have a magic touch, there’s no doubt. So, naturally you caught my attention when you disclosed on national TV that your company purchased land along the Potomac River (mentioning a golf course). So of course, I wondered if the project was in MD, DC, or VA.

Lo and behold- I found that the public records indeed indicated that there was a purchase by your company. What a beautiful piece of land. There is a golf club, of course, and it is right on the on the Potomac River… in Sterling, VA!?


With all due respect, Mr. Trump, if you want the opportunity to buy some great real estate and make some deals- why not here in Maryland? After all, there are plenty of deals and development opportunities– some even along the Potomac River, just minutes from DC!

So, Mr. Trump…I’m waiting for your call to see if we can do business (my contact information is on my website: www.dankrell.com). However, if it turns out we can’t- it’s all good! I’ll just catch your next interview.

All the best…

This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2010 Dan Krell

Coping with the stress of the real estate transaction

Unless you are under the care of a psychiatrist prescribing you Valium, “stress free” is not something that comes to mind when describing real estate. According to the American Institute of Stress (stress.org), stress is subjective and can originate from negative and positive experiences.

On the “Holmes-Rahe Social Readjustment Rating Scale” otherwise known as the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale (Holmes & Rahe 1967), having a mortgage over $10,000 rates 31 (just above being foreclosed upon) and moving is rated as 20. This commonly used stress scale (which rates life events to determine risk of illness) is cumulative, so the rating for buying a home is at least 51. Your stress level obviously increases when you add in other life stressors such as (but not limited to): getting divorced (73); getting married (50); having a baby (39); changing careers (36).

The reason why buying a home may rate so high on the Stress Scale is that, unlike other transactions, buying (and selling) a home is a large emotional investment! Gordon Gekko, from Oliver Stone’s Wall Street, was on to something when he said, “don’t get emotional [over stock], it clouds your judgment.” Emotions often become amplified when stress increases and can interfere with judgment.

Although most real estate agents don’t understand stress (what it is or how it’s reduced), it does not stop them from lecturing and blogging about “reducing stress” during the home buying or selling process. Being prepared and dividing the buying/selling process into segments is common advice and makes sense. This guidance often helps buyers and sellers feel a sense of “control” by understanding what to expect. However, the wonderful thing about real estate is that every transaction presents a new set of personalities, conditions, and (sometimes) problems. Reactions among buyers and sellers, as well as real estate agents, vary depending on their personalities and life circumstances. So no matter how much you plan, prepare, and visualize what it may be like, stress can be produced just by going through the process (created by both positive and negative feelings).

For some, being prepared is enough to help them anticipate and deal with most circumstances that may arise; while for others, the act of preparation may actually increase stress. Emotional factors, often based on needs and fears, can play a key role in your stress levels. Sometimes your needs are beyond your control and can increase your stress level, such as the need to stick to stringent timelines. And sometimes your needs can adapt and change which can mitigates your stress, such as finding the “perfect home.”

Fears about the outcome of the transaction can increase your stress, especially if you’re a first time home buyer. Common buyer fears include mortgage approvals and rising interest rates; sometimes buyers fear that the home inspection may reveal problems with the home. Common home seller fears include the home buyer’s qualifications and the ability to consummate the sale.

Good real estate agents know how to address the needs and fears of the real estate transaction to keep stress levels in check. Regardless, some people may turn to self help, “pop” or common stress reduction techniques (such as meditation); and if the stress is overwhelming, it wouldn’t hurt consulting with your physician or a qualified mental health professional – especially if you’re already stressed by your job, family and other life stress.

This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Permission to use this article is by written consent only.

By Dan Krell
Copyright © 2010

Alternative home buying consultation

by Dan Krell &copy 2009

Consulting the stars to buy a home

Before buying or selling a home, some people will consult a Realtor to understand market trend analyses, economic analyses and employment data. For a fresh approach to home buying/selling and real estate investing, some will consult with an astrologer (before meeting with their Realtor). Astrology has been used for many years to assist people in making business and financial decisions as well as attempting to predict future trends.

According to the American Federation of Astrologers (AFA), astrology has been practiced for over 4,000 years. It is considered an art by some, science by others, and mocked by many. Reported past followers of astrology include Plato, Copernicus, and Sir Isaac Newton. Former First Lady Nancy Reagan made headlines when she consulted with astrologers. Because there is a wide range of opinion, the AFA has stated that “few other topics stimulate as much debate as astrology.” The AFA conducts research and compiles data to better the practice of astrology. The AFA also established a code of ethics and provides accreditation to astrologers (astrologers.com).

The art/science of astrology is practiced by calculating and reading natal charts; each natal chart is exclusive to each person’s rising sign, planets, and houses. An individual’s natal chart is read to interpret and understand past and future influences on a person’s life, including (but not limited to) business, finances, relationships. Businesses owners sometimes use astrological charts to help time entering into contracts, expansion, and hiring.

Why rely on a real estate expert when you can consult the heavens? Having an astrologer read your natal chart can help you understand and choose the best timing for buying a home as it relates to your life events. Depending on your chart, the astrologer may determine that buying during a certain period of time may be best to avoid negative influences. Additionally, an astrologer may even determine the type of home that may be best for you as well its surroundings.

Some astrologers have actually claimed that they predicted the decline of the real estate market. In his book, Cosmic Trends, Philip Brown predicts future trends by studying celestial and historical cycles. Published in 2006, Brown described emerging astrological signs that were not seen since the 1930’s. Special attention is given to Cancer, which Brown describes as representing homes and real estate.

In 2008, Lloyd A. Wright, AMAFA wrote “The Catastrophic Eclipse of the Real Estate Bubble,” which describes the effects of lunar and solar eclipses to the relative positions of Saturn (land and real estate), Jupiter (money), and the moon (the public) during 2007. Prior to the lunar eclipse of October 24, 2007, he stated that the real estate market was relatively stable. However afterward, he described the markets as beginning to tumble (astrologers.com).

Although some astrologers may say that we are bound to our fates by karma, most astrologers will explain that we have free will that can be enhanced by reading our natal charts. Astrology is not exact, so it easy to misunderstand the intent and use of the field in one’s life.

Although often ridiculed, astrology is frequently misunderstood. However according to astrological practitioners, real estate market trends are not just associated with economic data – they may also be related to heavenly cycles and events.

This column 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 July 27, 2009. Copyright © 2009 Dan Krell.

What Cap and Trade (HR 2454) will require of home owners

by Dan Krell © 2009

A National Building Code

Get the facts, read the bill. View HR 2454 here:

If confused about Cap and Trade?you have heard of H.R. 2454 you may not have thought much about it. Yes, this is the famous (or infamous) American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 also known as “cap and trade.” What many home owners may not realize is that H.R. 2454 is not only directed toward commercial uses, it is aimed toward home owners as well.

Title II Energy Efficiency, Subtitle-A: Building Energy Efficiency Programs establishes that effective on the date of enactment, new buildings must meet a national building code to meet a thirty percent reduction of energy use relative to a baseline code. By January 1, 2014 new residential buildings must meet a fifty percent reduction in energy use; energy use reduction in residential buildings will be required to increase five percent every three years thereafter.

This legislation establishes National Energy Efficiency Building Codes for commercial and residential buildings “to meet each of the national building code energy efficiency targets.” The Secretary of Energy is given the duty to create and amend the National Energy Building Codes by determining the percentage of energy improvements that would be achieved by proposed improvements and to propose the improvements necessary to meet or exceed the target (Title II, subtitle A, section 304(a)).

Once the National Energy Efficiency Building Codes are established, state and local jurisdictions have one year to adopt the national code. If after the one year, a state and/or local jurisdiction fail to adopt the national building code, “the national code shall become the applicable energy efficiency building code for such jurisdiction” (Title II, subtitle A, section 304(d)”APPLICATION OF NATIONAL CODE TO STATE AND LOCAL JURISDICTIONS”).

If a building is out of compliance with the national code, a violation may be determined by state, local, and/or federal authorities. Enforcement of the national building code will be enforced by the state (if law is adopted) through random inspections of buildings. (Title II, subtitle A, section 304(e)”STATE ENFORCEMENT OF ENERGY EFFICIENCY BUILDING CODES”).the truth about Cap and Trade

If a state does not adopt the national building code, then enforcement falls to the Federal level, where the Secretary of Energy will create rules for building code violations and penalties. The Secretary will create “an energy efficiency building code enforcement capability” (which will conduct building inspections). Fees will be collected to “cover costs” of the enforcement procedures (Title II, subtitle A, section 304(f) “FEDERAL ENFORCEMENT AND TRAINING”).

The legislation also creates the Retrofit for Energy and Environmental Performance (REEP) program. The goal of the program is to “facilitate the retrofitting of existing buildings across the United States to achieve maximum cost-effective energy efficiency improvements and significant improvements in water use and other environmental attributes.”

Additionally, the Act creates the Building Energy Performance Labeling Program to provide the public the necessary efficiency information of a building. The information would be made accessible to “owners, lenders, tenants, occupants, or other relevant parties who can utilize it.” Buildings will be labeled at the time of sale, when retrofitted, or by inspection.

Although the Act is well intentioned, specifics are lacking that leave many rules and procedures (including inspections, violations, and penalties) to be decided at a later time at the discretion of the Secretary of Energy and/or state and local officials. Unfortunately, you may not hear much more about how “cap and trade” affects home owners; however, unclear legislation may have unintended consequences to home ownership and the real estate market.

This column 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 June 29, 2009. Copyright © 2009 Dan Krell.

Verify all contractor licenses

If your real estate agent says, “I have a guy to do the work…,” you might want to check if those contractors or handymen are licensed by the Maryland Home Improvement Commission (MHIC). The Maryland Real Estate Commission warns consumers that it is illegal for unlicensed contractors and handymen to do home improvements for a fee.

The Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection website states that anyone who repairs, maintains, restores, or improves real property (homes) is required to be licensed by the MHIC. The MHIC regulates home improvement contractors, subcontractors and salespersons. If a handyman is altering, remodeling, or making repairs to your home- then the handyman is required to have a license too.

The MHIC issues licenses to contractors who have least two years trade experience; provide proof of financial solvency; and pass a test on the home improvement law and general business competency. Additionally, licensed contractors are also screened for serious criminal convictions and are required to make regular contributions to the Maryland Home Improvement guarantee fund.

If you selling your home, make sure that any completed repairs are performed by a contractor or handyman that is licensed by the MHIC. The Maryland Real Estate Commission and the Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) recommend that you ask contractors and handymen for their MHIC license number to verify their license status and complaint history before they begin working on your home. You can verify MHIC licenses by either calling the MHIC or through their website (www.dllr.state.md.us/license/occprof/homeim.html). Additionally, it is recommended that you check with the OCP (240-777-3636) and the Better Business Bureau (202-393-8000) for any filed complaints against the contractors.

Additionally, verifying that your contractor or handyman is actively licensed prior to any home improvement will ensure that the contractor can obtain the proper permits (if required) as well as protect you from shoddy or incomplete work. The Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing & Regulation (DLLR) has made an effort to have permitting offices require all contractors present their licenses when applying for permits. Additionally, the MHIC investigates all consumer complaints (some complaints result in an award for monetary damages from their guarantee fund); the MHIC will also pursue and aid in the prosecution of violators of the Maryland home improvement law.

Two specific MHIC investigations of consumer complaints last year resulted in a revoked license, a fine and jail time. The first investigation (as reported by WBAL TV in Baltimore on October 21, 2008; wbaltv.com) resulted in a revoked license from a contractor who had numerous consumer complaints of shoddy work (one home owner complained that after he paid the contractor for an addition, the addition was ordered to be torn down for being unsafe). The second investigation (as reported by the DLLR on December 16, 2008) was of the deeds of an unlicensed contractor, which resulted in a $65,000 fine and thirty days in jail.

Even though you trust your real estate agent, the fact that a real estate broker was fined by the Maryland Real Estate Commission last year for allowing the use of an unlicensed contractor (to perform repairs that were listed in a contract addendum) should be motivation enough to check out any contractor before they begin to work on your home.

Original published at https://dankrell.com/blog/2009/03/17/verify-all-contractor-licenses-its-the-law/

By Dan Krell

This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Copyright © 2009 Dan Krell