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How to find your next rental

February 18, 2009 by  
Filed under Quick

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For Rent

You want to find a great new place to rent. So what can you do to make that happen?

Did you know you can have a Realtor represent you and help you with this process, and the landlord pays us? We are free to you the tenant but we are worth much more!

Here is the basic process:

Search Click Here

  1. Find the house, townhouse, condo, or apartment you wish to rent
    • With our industry leading interactive map based search, you can browse the listings on a map. Drag the map to see available rental listings in any direction. Change the search criteria to limit price/rent, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, detached home or condo or etc., and even search by things like days on market. No zip codes are required which greatly simplifies the search.
    • If you wish to take advantage of our expertise and skill, we can help you with the search or you can sit back while we send you listings. 
      • Just tell me what type of property you are looking for and in which areas. 
      • Do you have pets?
      • What length lease are you looking for? 
      • Do you desire rent to own? 
      • Next, I’ll send some listings for you to look over.
      • Ask us how you can still buy a house with zero percent down!
    • Once you have chosen or found some homes you would like to see, just tell me which ones you wish to see in person, and we go and see them together.
    • Now you narrow your choice to one, or we continue the search until you choose a suitable home.
  2. Get Approved
    • You fill out the application and give me certified funds for the application processing fee.
    • I deliver the application and fee to the landlords’s agent who then processes the application, runs credit report, researches your information.
    • The landlord’s agent then will contact me if they need additional information.
    • The landlords agent presents your information to the landlord/owner and then the landlord makes a decision to approve your application or not.
    • If approved, I will prepare the lease according to the landlord’s instructions.
    • Approved: We will then meet to sign the lease, you will provide certified funds for the first month’s rent, and I will deliver these items to the landlord’s agent. The landlord will review and sign the lease. Then prior to you the tenant taking possession the security deposit will be provided by you to the landlord (most likely in certified funds) and then the landlord will give you keys to the house.
    • Not approved: If not approved we will find out why and then we will decide what strategy we might need or what to change to get approved for the next house. Credit issues are common with renters, and many times things go through fine. But a solid housing rental or mortgage history is the most important part of your credit. If you had problems here, then we need to present the story or reasons that might convince a landlord that things are different now. The landlord usually has a mortgage to pay, and they need to be convinced that approving your lease is not risky. If you have the income, ask us how to get private cosigning insurance.
    • Application approval process usually takes 2-5 days for all the verification steps.
  3. Sign the lease and move in!
    • Lease preparation can be completed the same day as the approval, schedules permitting.
    • Exchanging keys and funds can also be completed in the same day as the lease preparation as long as all parties are available.

Sometimes I can help to save some time and fees if the landlord’s agent will accept a credit report run by my mortgage person. That is also a good way for us to review ahead of time if there are any credit issues that might present a problem and to work to resolving and explaining the issues. As early as possible in your search, you should provide us a Long & Foster Rental Application (no fee until we are ready to submit this for a particular application), and fax us your written permission to pull your credit report (ask for the form). Fax all documents to me at fax# (410)741-3601.

Photo credit, Shawn Zehnder Lea. (Modified)

Two random things about myself

February 13, 2009 by  
Filed under Quick

Rubik's Cube SolvedPerry Marshall challenged his twitter followers and blog readers to “Tell me 2 random things about yourself – takes 2 minutes.” It took me longer than that, but I posted two things as a comment to his blog. I thought I would share them here too:


1) I have always had an entrepreneurial streak. I was selling cupcakes or something as a child in Soho New York, when Herve Villechaize (Tattoo on Fantasy Island) was packing to move to California for what became his big break in the Man with the Golden Gun. He gave me a harmonica, and a pile of Sad Sack comic books which I still have somewhere. During high school in New York, I would buy novelties in the wholesale district, and sell them as a street vendor on 8th street in Greenwich Village. I mostly sold Rubik’s Cube knockoffs. I figured out how to solve the cube, and would solve them while selling them to drum up business. I once solved a cube in 47 seconds in a high school contest, beating in that round the eventual winner of the contest. He won with 17 seconds. I can still solve the cube in usually less than 2 minutes.

2) I met my wife playing volleyball in a tournament for charity on the National Mall in DC. We were both on the same team of six. I was pretty shy about it. We started playing as doubles partners in a local sand volleyball league. It was only after some months of that, that we started going out. I used the Bruce Willis line in Hudson Hawk, where he leans forward and whispers that he has a secret. I leaned forward and kissed her. A risk well worth taking.

Photo credit, Danie van der Merwe and Bram Van Damme.

What is Ground Rent, and should I worry about it?

February 11, 2009 by  
Filed under Quick

Fee Simple Deed

Ground rent is not the big deal it once was. Ground Rent is a peculiar creation that exists in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Hawaii. As it sounds, ground rent is a rent owed to the lease holder and owner of the ground. It originated in Colonial times as a method to facilitate home ownership when the land was too expensive for the tenant to buy. Most of the original ground rents expired after 99 years without being renewed. A new batch of ground rents were created following World War Two, to facilitate home ownership for returning GI’s. These ground rents also tend to have an expiration time of 99 years. Ground rents, after some controversy and sad evictions in recent years, have been reduced to a nuisance. Legislation has reduced the powers of the lease holders to collection of back rents, putting a lien on a property, and possible eviction only for amount owed. Any equity in the property stays with the homeowner. The old rule actually allowed the ground rent owner to keep all the property equity. Even the new laws may sound worrisome, but the dollar amounts involved tend to be very low. I have seen rents as low as $14 a year, and as high as $270 a year. Most ground rents can be redeemed for 8 to 25 times the annual ground rent depending on the year the rent was created. For the $270 ground rent that amounts to $6750 at the high end. Once redeemed, the land is owned in fee simple with no rents due. Ground rent exists on some pretty fancy and expensive homes as well as modest homes. In the current buyers market climate, it may be a quickly accepted condition of sale that the seller will redeem the ground rent and sell the property in fee simple.

Maryland’s Peoples Law Library has an excellent explanation of Ground Rent. Governor O’Malley signed a bill in 2007 prohibiting the creation of new ground rent.

Restaurants at National Harbor Maryland

February 7, 2009 by  
Filed under Quick

National Harbor DioramaOK, I’m here at National Harbor. Now where do we eat?

Walk to great restaurants and boutiqes located at National Harbor.

Restaurants at National Harbor:

Brought to you by first stop for shopping for homes, condos, rentals, and investment property in Maryland.

National Harbor Diorama

Credit Score rules have changed. How does it impact you?

February 6, 2009 by  
Filed under Quick

Piggy Bank

The Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) changed the rules this Thursday February 5th on how credit scores are calculated. Ironically they are calling the new rules FICO 08 since they were supposed to release them in 2008, but they were late.

Here is a list of some of the changes:

  • Problems with the payment history of debts under $100 now have less impact on your credit score.
  • Problems with larger debts now have a larger impact on your score.
  • Isolated issues with debt will have less impact, as the overall debt picture becomes more important.
  • The existing rule, that the smaller the ratio of existing debt to available debt the better your credit, has become more important.

Today’s lending climate has increased the importance of your credit score in the interest rate, options, or even availability of a mortgage. If you have any issues, talk to us sooner in your home search, rather than later. We can put you in touch with some very helpful lenders that can coach you in improving your credit at no charge. Overall improving credit takes time, so the earlier you start, the more impact you can have. The end result of great credit is substantially lower monthly payments on a mortgage.

NewsChannel5 Via Consumerist.

Photo credit, Fortyseven.

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