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How to know more about security deposits than most Maryland landlords

April 28, 2009 by  
Filed under Quick

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Fells Point Door KnockerMaryland law has strong tenant protections, while also giving rights to the owner. As a landlord or tenant, knowing the law will reduce conflict and worry. The law sets down the rights and responsibilities of all parties. Following the rules makes everything easier. When people are treated fairly, and there are rules that set the ground rules of what is fair, there will be less misunderstanding and hard feelings. If you don’t know the rules, it is easy to break them. Breaking these simple rules can be costly.

This excerpt from should show you why visiting their site is a good idea: “The total amount of the security deposit may not be more than two month’s rent or $50; whichever is greater. If the tenant is charged more, s/he may recover from the landlord up to three times the excess amount and reasonable attorney’s fees. The tenant may demand refund of this excess at anytime while s/he lives in the rental property or within 2 years after s/he moves away.” Also keep in mind that “Any rent that is paid in advance is considered part of the security deposit and is subject to all the restrictions”.

The Washington Post also explains: “After the day your tenancy ends, your landlord has 45 days to return your deposit (plus interest), minus any costs incurred to repair damages.”

The Maryland State Law Library has details on the law written in plain language. It covers the security deposit topic, and many other topics of landlord – tenant law.

This information is not legal advice. For application of the law to your individual circumstances, you should consult an attorney. The information quoted here can and should also be verified by visiting Maryland State Law Library Sources of Maryland Law.

Immigrate to the United States by investing in real estate

April 18, 2009 by  
Filed under Quick

American Flag

Citizens of treaty nations with the United States may be able to get a visa and then Green Card for residency in the United States by investing in real estate. It is difficult to get permission to enter the US as an immigrant, but this looks like a strategy that people are using successfully. You would definitely want to get advice from an immigration lawyer before trying this. But here is the strategy as I understand it:

  1. Buy at least $100,000 of investment real estate in the United States
  2. Get an E-2 investor visa
  3. Travel to the US to manage your real estate investment
  4. You can continue to renew the E2 visa without limit.

But you cannot get a Green Card with an E-2 visa. There is more to the strategy, however, to solve that:

  1. While in the US with the E2 visa, open a company abroad and become an executive of that company
  2. Apply for a change of status to change your visa to an L-1 visa
  3. Wait a year
  4. Apply for an EB-1 Green Card as a manager of your company

There are technical requirements and restrictions that have to be met to make this work. Read more about this strategy at If you want to hire an immigration attorney for advice, you can try

E-2 visa Treaty Country List

  • Albania
  • Argentina
  • Armenia
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Azerbaijan
  • Bahrain
  • Bangladesh
  • Belgium
  • Bolivia
  • Bosnia & Herzegovina
  • Bulgaria
  • Cameroon
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • China (Taiwan)
  • Colombia
  • Congo (Brazzaville)
  • Congo (Kinshasa)
  • Costa Rica
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic
  • Ecuador
  • Egypt
  • Estonia
  • Ethiopia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Georgia
  • Germany
  • Grenada
  • Honduras
  • Iran
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Jamaica
  • Japan
  • Jordan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Korea (South)
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Latvia
  • Liberia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Macedonia
  • Mexico
  • Moldova
  • Mongolia
  • Morocco
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Romania
  • Senegal
  • Singapore
  • Slovak Republic
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sri Lanka
  • Suriname
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Thailand
  • Togo
  • Trinidad & Tobago
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine
  • United Kingdom
  • Yugoslavia

Compost Bin Sale in Baltimore County

April 17, 2009 by  
Filed under Quick

Earth Machine Compost Bin Promotion

Compost Bin Sale April 18 & 19 – You can purchase Earth Machine Compost bins for $35, and you do not have to be a Baltimore county reisdent to purchase a bin. The suggested retail price is $100.

Saturday April 18th at the IKEA parking lot in White Marsh, 8352 Honeygo Blvd, White Marsh, MD, 21236, from 9am to 3pm. You can get an “Earth Machine” compost bin for only $35, cash and checks only. These are on a first come first served basis, while supplies last.

View Larger Map Click on the “B” to get directions to Ikea

On Sunday April 19th the sale moves to Reisterstown: to the Franklin High School parking lot, 12000 Reisterstown Rd, Reisterstown, MD 21136, hours from 9am to 3pm. Again the price is $35 per bin and there is no limit on the number of bins you may purchase, cash and checks only.

View Larger Map Get directions to Franklin High School

Here is a link to the very helpful Baltimore county website outlining this promotion:

Norseman Plastics has been very successful with these promotions across the country. 6% of residents in Boulder Colorado have one of these bins. There have been sales in California, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Connecticut. And I am sure there have been many more states not listed.

Many of the people that buy these have never composted before. A Portland Metro survey reported that “88% of residents are still using their bin after 3 years”. Composting is a very effective way of reducing trash use. And it is a great way to get rid of leaves.

“Temporarily Unavailable” is such a sad phrase

April 16, 2009 by  
Filed under Quick

Temporarily Unavailable House

Update #2 4-17-09 12:38am: Everything should be working again. Thank you for your patience. There was a server crash. Now Amazon S3 is being used to host the listing photos.

One of my clients provided a good tip. Even though the photos were missing before, many listings have a virtual tour. The virtual tour photos were working all along. Also, even though some listings don’t have any photos provided by the listing agent, that house may have been listed before. Ask us to search prior listings for photos, and other descriptions. We will be happy to provide that for you.

Update #1 4-16-09 2:52pm: RSS feeds now work. Photos will be working late tonight.

The HelpShop website is being repaired. Currently anything to do with search is missing photographs. The new-listings and special-searches categories also do not have working images. The search RSS feeds are broken.

A real estate search website without images is a sad spectacle. I am a strong believer in the power of photographs to market a house. I am also a big proponent of empowering the home shopper to find their dream home with great tools. Well today I have failed you. At least it is only temporary. But for many real estate websites and many home listings, the crippled presentation and search is real. Those websites and listings don’t believe in the internet. They make searching hard, and too many listings have poor if any photographs.

If you like what I am trying to build here, you can encourage me. Help me spread the word of the search engine. Tell your friends about it when they say they are thinking about buying a house. Save bookmarks to it on and other bookmark sites. Blog about it. Twitter about it. But not today. It looks so sad today.

My internal tools have photos and strong searching ability. And they still work even now. You are always welcome to ask me for any listing to be emailed to you. That will include photos. You can request custom searches, and those results will be sent to you. I can even have those searches automatically continue to email you if something new comes up. Also, I can search in ways that unfortunately cannot provide just yet, even when it works. I can search based on strange shaped regions. This way you can find only houses that are north of a diagonal road, or just inside the beltway for instance. I can search based on words in the description. This way you can find homes that promote their in-law suite for example. I can search on property status. With this I can show you sold and expired listings. We know how much the seller paid for his house. And we can find sellers that have a great house to sell that was priced too high, and nobody is looking at them anymore. They let their listing expire. You can make their only offer. So even once HelpShop is happy and working again, I can still provide custom searching for you. And of course when we run searches for you, we look them over too. We have a lot of experience finding great houses for our clients.

To Sell A Home For The Most Money, You Need Great Photographs

April 5, 2009 by  
Filed under Quick

Don’t you like it when listings have many photographs? Isn’t it better when the photographs look good? Taking photographs for my listings and my blog is a source of pride. Most every home for sale has been looked at by prospective buyers online before they decide if they want to see it or not. To stand out in the current crowd of listings, make sure the photographs are done well.

Maryland Photography

In Maryland, the multiple list system (MRIS), now has room for thirty photos. It used to be limited to twenty photos, and the agent had to pay $12 to get that many. If the agent didn’t pay, MRIS limited you to six photos. MRIS was right to decide to encourage more photos. The whole system is more valuable because of it. Still it is very common to find listings that don’t even have one photo. Apparently not every Realtor shares my view that photography is essential to marketing a home.

If you want to list your house and get it promoted well with beautiful photographs, then give us a call.

If you are already listed with another agent, and if your home doesn’t sell, then once your listing expires, you might want to consider a different approach.

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