Dec 07

Selling Your Property?

By Antoinette Johnson | Uncategorized

This week I would like to talk about something a little bit more real estate focused, since after all that is my area of expertise! Currently we are in a ‘Buyers Market’. As most of you know interest rates are at an all time low. Furthermore, buyers have more resources than ever before in terms of finding the right home at the right price for them. With that said, not to worry because there are still ways for you, the seller, to get a good return on your home. One of the best ways to do this is by holding an Open House. One of the main benefits of an open house is that it gets people inside your home. Putting your house up on the MLS or Zillow is a great way to get your house exposure however, having potential buyers walking through and seeing your home in person can be much more persuasive. You can also get your friends and family to mention the open house to people in their social circle which is a great way to increase the number of eyes on your property. Going one step further an open house is a way for you to present your house in the best way possible. With routine showings buyers agent attend with his/her client however with scheduled open house times your agent wouldn’t be there to point out certain things that you would want a prospective buyer to see. Also, by choosing the time you can have the house deep cleaned and the furniture set up exactly the way you want it. Statistics show the more eyes on your house and the more visits a house gets, the faster it will sell. According to the NAR 2013 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, driving through neighborhoods is one of the top buyer activities. It is easy to imagine a potential buyer driving through your neighborhood on a weekend and seeing your open house sign out in the front lawn and stopping for a look. Finally I’d like to end with just a few tips before you schedule an open house. Some of these might be a little obvious but you would be surprised how many people forget to do the little things: 1. In addition to a full interior house cleaning. Make sure the lawn is mowed and windows of your house are clean inside and out. 2. Clear the countertops and make sure there aren’t any dishes in the sink or pots and pans on the stove or the counters. 3. Remove any personal magnets or notes from the fridge and or messages. 4. Remove clutter and make it as easy as possible to move through walkways. 5. Remove personal pictures or personal items from counters and tables to make the house look generic. 6. Include sweet smelling home fresheners for a pleasant scent. 7. Turn off TVs and/turn on soothing music. 8. Leave flyers for Buyers to take as a reminder of the important key points of their expiernce You want to buyer to be able to imagine themselves living in the house and that process can be easily interrupted when the seller has reminders that this is currently someone else house lying around. Call me Today and I can show you more!

Nov 29

Restaurant Review

By Antoinette Johnson | Uncategorized

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and you were able to enjoy food, family and friends! I really love cooking and Thanksgiving is a great excuse for me to stay in the kitchen and cook but sometimes its good to go to a restaurant and eat a wonderful meal and not have to worry about preparing it.

Federal Hill Night Life

An often-overlooked fact about Baltimore is that there are a number of wonderful restaurants in the city and some of them are very well known like, Charleston, Fogo de Chao, Mrs. Shirley’s, etc. I definitely enjoy these restaurants but I pride myself on being able to find unknown gems hidden in the city. For example, when most people think of Federal Hill they usually think of the many bars located throughout that district. They might even think of Cross Street Market; the historic 19th century marketplace that runs the full length of Cross Street between Light Street and Charles Street, however what most people do not look to Federal Hill for are nice restaurants.

Sobo Cafe

One of my favorite restaurants is Sobo Cafe, which is located at 6 West Cross Street slightly past Cross Street Market. They serve traditional comfort food as well as vegetarian and vegan items. Some of their most well known dishes include the Sobo Burger and or the Seared Salmon. SoBo Cafe is also rated 5th on Trip Advisor in a list of over 1500 restaurants. If you end up going to Sobo Cafe please let me know what you think! Bon Appetite!

Nov 13

History of Owings Mills, Maryland

By Antoinette Johnson | Uncategorized

The founding of Owings Mills might contain some interesting facts that you didn’t know. The initial plans for what we now know as Owings Mills can be found in the 1979 Baltimore County Master Plan. The Owings Mills area was recognized as a perfect location for a self sustaining community. The belief was that it would eventually provide housing, employment and complete range of commercial services for the people that lived there. These plans were made official in 1984 during the widespread Baltimore County zoning map process. A largely forgotten piece of Owings Mills’s history is that the early plans for the area included a manmade lake, however there was a study done by the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) that established it would have a negative environmental impact. This study cancelled plans for the lake but it inadvertently forced developers to change the name of the community. The planned name was ‘Lakeside’ which is why one of the main roads in Owings Mills, Lakeside Boulevard still remains. Many of the roads that we drive on everyday were named after prominent settlers in the Owings Mills. For example, the ‘Owings Family’ actually bought large parcels of land in the Green Spring Valley area. It is amazing to me how the original plans for the community were ultimately achieved with respect to housing, employment and commercial services. Being an Owings Mills resident myself since 1999, I havepersonally seen the growth in the area 1st hand, and with the new Wal-Mart near Owings Mills Mall, Wegmans, etc. there is certainly additional growth to benefit the community in the very near future.

Oct 02

New Changes to Mortgage Process to Go into Effect in October

By Gladiator | Blog

home buyingNew changes in mortgage policy were announced by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in their “know before you own” campaign. These changes will make it easier for potential home buyers to compare mortgage rates while looking at new homes for sale. It will also allow loan customers to check their loan amount, interest rate, payments, closing costs, and any other terms and conditions. This is great news for those looking to buy a home, as buyers typically need to borrow 90% of the price of their home. The changes take place in a variety of different areas, and make it easier for a home buyer to fully understand the full cost of home buying. One of the major changes to be implemented is the converging of four documents into two. The new Loan Estimate document will replace the Good Faith Estimate and the first Truth-In-Lending Statement. The second document, known as Closing Disclosure, will combine the HUD-1 Settlement Statement and the final Truth-In-Lending statement. To help ease home buyers through the mortgage process, the new Loan Estimate has a full page that is specifically designed to help a home buyer to understand the full cost of the mortgage. This includes a calculation of what the borrower would have already paid after five years into the mortgage. They also contain an estimate of the APR rate, which can be used to compare mortgages side-by-side. This is great news for someone who is unfamiliar with mortgage terms, such as first time buyers. In 2014, 38% of home buyers were first-time buyers, and that number continues to rise as the younger generation grows into adults. If you’re confused about the home buying process, it may be beneficial to do some research before diving into searching for homes for sale. A staggering 92% of buyers use the Internet in some way during their search process, as it is a great tool for research needs. If you have any other questions, or aren’t sure where to start, contact your local Realtors for more information.

Sep 25

An Update on Good Faith Estimates

By Gladiator | Blog

Tuesday night was our bi-weekly meeting at J&A Realty and it was an action-packed one. Not only was it Mrs. Johnson’s birthday but Donte Harris, the branch manager for Primary Residential Mortgage, stopped by to give a talk.  Mr. Harris talked extensively about the new changes that have taken place with the GFE or Good Faith Estimate.  These are changes that you the consumer should be aware of because they directly effect your home buying experience in what we believe to be a positive way.  Before these changes the GFE was a complicated document that did not clearly or effectively communicate information to the home buyer.  Now the GFE is a standardized 3 page document with clearly labeled items. The two images shown here are an examples of the old GFE and the new GFE forms. The old GFE form is on the left and the new GFE form is on the right.  Without even looking at the numbers it should be clear that the new GFE forms are much less obscure and much easier for the average consumer to understand.  These factors will make understanding your loan estimate much easier and remove some of apprehension that is commonly associated with home buying.

Sep 03

Buying a New Home: A Step-By-Step Process

By Gladiator | Blog

home buyersBuying a new house is one of the most exciting milestones in a person’s life. However, many potential home buyers are new to the home buying process, and have no idea how to even begin looking. Approximately 43% of home buyers believe the first step is to look online for property, but many are unaware of the other steps that should be taken first. Here is a simple, step-by-step guide for the home buying process. Check Your Credit Credit scores are important because they affect the kind of home loans you can qualify for. Credit scores range from approximately 300 to 850, and the higher a home buyers credit score, the more likely they’ll be able to qualify for an agreeable loan. According to law, every person is allowed one free copy of his or her credit report, and there are many online sites that can conduct the check for you. When checking your credit score, look for any errors that you can dispute, which may help raise your score. Get Pre-Approved Unless you have thousands of dollars in cash laying around, you will most likely need to take out a loan to pay for your new home. A study of home buying in 2013 showed that home buyers typically finance 90% of the home price through a mortgage. Before you are able to look at new homes for sale, apply to several lenders to get pre-approved for a loan. This will allow you to get a more complete picture of what you can afford, before you start talking to local Realtors. Shop For a Home Before conducting a search for a new home, take a minute to think about what kind of house you want to look for. Think about what kind of space you need, the neighborhood you want to live in, and any other factors that might affect your decision. Once you know what you want, it’s time to turn to the Internet. Ninety-two percent of home buyers use the Internet is some way during their home search process. If you’re not comfortable using the Internet, contact a real estate agent and ask them for their listings. Make an Offer Once you’ve found the perfect house, it’s time to make an offer. Sellers tend to price their homes higher than they are willing to sell, in case haggling is involved. Base your offer on other comparable houses in the market. Once the price is agreed upon, a contract will be written up with all the terms of the sale.

Aug 24

3 Things To Check Before Buying a House

By Gladiator | Blog

homes for saleWhether you’re a first time buyer, or relocating to a new area, searching for a house to buy can be a stressful process. There are many things that have to be considered when purchasing a house, and it can be easy to forget some of the crucial aspects of the property that will affect the quality of your life. Here are 3 important things you’ll want to keep in mind when looking at a potential home for purchase. Neighborhood When looking at new homes for sale, you want to make sure that the surrounding area is a location you can envision yourself in for at least 10 years. NAR’s 2013 Community Preference Survey showed that 78% of home buyers surveyed believed that neighborhood quality is more important than the size of the homes for sale. Take a walk around the neighborhoods where you are looking to buy in, and take note of the conditions of the houses in the neighborhood, what kind of people live there, and if there are any community amenities like a park or library. If you’re unable to visit the neighborhood, utilize tools on the internet to do more research. Ninety-two percent of buyers use the Internet in some way during their home buying process. Bills Owning a home can be expensive. Along with mortgage payments and local taxes, there are other monthly bills that homeowners are accountable for. When looking at homes for sale, keep in mind the other costs that will go into owning the house. For example, large houses will likely have more expensive heating and cooling bills since there is more area to cover. Nine out of 10 buyers say they would rather buy a home with energy-efficient appliances that permanently lower utility bills over a home without those appliances that costs 2 to 3% less. Ask your local Realtors to provide you with the approximate cost of a month of utilities for a more accurate estimation of how much the home will cost you in the long run. Parking Parking can be one of the easiest things to forget when comparing multiple locations. Consider how many cars you will have at the house, and whether or not there is a driveway big enough to fit them all. Even if your house does have a driveway, it’s good to check the status of street parking and if there are any regulations that need to be observed. Tricky parking laws can make it difficult for any friends or relatives who come to visit.

Aug 21

Tips for First Time Home Buyers

By Gladiator | Blog

home buyersIf you’ve been considering buying a house for the first time, the process can seem discouraging. Buying a house is one of the biggest purchases of a person’s life, and first-time home buyers often have no idea how to even begin looking for a house to purchase. If you’re looking to buy a home for the first time and are confused, you’re not alone. About 38% of home buyers were first-time home buyers in 2014, lacking the experience needed to traverse the home buying market. Here are a few things you should know before putting an offer on your first home. The first step in buying a new house is research. Approximately 43% of home buyers believe that the best way to start the home-buying process is looking online for property, and a total of 92% of buyers use the internet in some way during their search. Use the internet to find out about the different neighborhoods you are considering moving into, looking into the average price of a home and taxes. It may also be good to check out the local shops and restaurants, and see if there are any annual events that may affect your decision. Make sure your qualify for a mortgage, and decide which option is the best for you. When shopping for a mortgage, and try to avoid mortgages that don’t offer a fixed interest rate. Consider other expenditures that may need to be made, such as homeowner’s insurance, a security system, moving van, and any renovations that you may have to do when budgeting out your total home purchase amount. If you’re still unsure about the process of home buying and all the steps that are a part of it, consider attending a home buyers workshop. These seminars provide new potential homeowners with a variety of home buyer seminars on topics such as how to get a home loan, managing your finances, and can even give you tips for the future if/when you sell your home.

Aug 18

Hello to All

By Gladiator | Uncategorized

I want to welcome all of you to my blog.  My name is Antoinette Johnson and I have been in Real Estate for over 10 years. I am currently the broker for my own brokerage Johnson & Associates Real Estate. I thought I should start sharing my experiences and all the tips and tricks I have learned throughout the years.  This blog will focus mostly on Real Estate but I will from time to time share stories from my life.

My goal is to present readers with reliable real estate financial advice that will help them achieve their financial goals. To do that, transparency is critical.  I will from time to time take articles that I think you guys should read and post them to my blog. I am in no way taking ownership or credit for the articles and I will always indicate if the post is not fully my own. If you all see something and think the other readers would benefit from it please send it to me and I just might post it!