Monday, January 31, 2011

It's All About Teamwork! Whose Team?

It's all about teamwork or is it? Guess it depends on which team you are on.

In the beginning the feeders were meant for the the Birds. And slowly the squirrels took over. We tried many different squirrel proof ( such thing) feeders..even coated the wires with Vaseline. Those adorable critters can get around anything. Greed.....When Enough is NOT Enough 

squirrel HomeRome 410-530-2400  squirrel HomeRome 410-530-2400

I have to admire their tenacity and their teamwork. They take turns on the feeder, do some acrobatics, eat for a while, knock down a lot of seeds, hop off and eat what's on the ground. Quite efficient for the squirrels. They have figured out the art of teamwork!

Squirrel HomeRome 410-530-2400  squirrel HomeRome 410-530-2400 Big Black Birds HomeRome 410-530-2400
They take turns. One on the feeder, two enjoying the fruits of the worker above. The big black birds are sharing in this ground feast.

That feeder has now been emptied by the furry mammals....not be refilled for awhile. It is time for the pretty colorful birds to enjoy their own special feeder (with the tiny mesh holes) without interference 'teamwork' .

                                                   3 full feeders HomeRome 410-530-2400
A few days ago all 3 feeders were full.

It's all about teamwork...but you better know whose team you are on!

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Sunday, January 30, 2011

So You Want to Buy or List a Condo...Will Financing Be Available?

Yesterday I received a call from an agent wanting to set up appointments on my coop units and one of my condo listings. She was not aware that this coop can only be purchased as a cash mortgage of any kind.  Then she asked about VA financing because her mortgage person said.."There would be no problem.."

I suggested she give Mortgage Mama a call....

Via Bridget "Mortgage Mama" McGee (Allied Home Mortgage Capital Corp 410-960-2061):
I got a call yesterday from a realtor (referred to me by Margaret Rome, THANKS MARGARET) who has a client interested in condo living.  There are some fabulous condos on the market, the prices are right, the amenities are fabulous.  For cash buyers, condo living may be a no brainer, but for many the question will be "Will financing be available?"

To determine if the condo is currently approved for FHA financing, click here.
To determine if the condo is currently approved for VA financing, click here.   It can take 8-12 weeks for the VA legal department to approve a condo.  Documents including budget and condo docs will be required for review.

The condo association may already be approved for conventional financing by specific investors, your loan officer should be able to determine.  If not, the investor will need at least the following information from any condo association you are considering (if they are not already approved):
  1. 2011 budget
  2. Condo Master Insurance Policy
  3. Signed and Dated Condo Questionnaire
There may or may not be a fee required by the condo associated for gathering the documentation.
Most lenders will  probably not approve financing if:
  • it is less than 51% owner occupied
  • the association is involved in any litigation
  • there is over a 15% delinquency rate on dues
  • the condo is over 20% commercial
  • one entity owns 10% of the condos
Don't be discouraged if a condo listed for sale is not yet approved for available financing, with some skill, diligence and proper documentation, we can help you to navigate the approval process for condos in Maryland so when someone asks "Will financing be available?"  You can answer "YES" with confidence!

UPDATE:  Local lenders may have portfolio (in house) financing programs that National lenders do not.  The guidelines are determined by their management team, and not subject to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac or governmental rules. I have spoken to a local lender who has an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) program that may be a good option for some condominium buyers.  We will continue to research financing options to ensure the best fit for the client.   If we don't offer a program that works for a buyer or their home of choice, someone else does (as long as we are aware of the option) we will happily refer the buyer to that lender.
Warm Regards,
Bridget McGee  Maryland Mortgage Mama   Allied Home Mortgage Capital Corp #1448  410-960-2061 EHO

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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Time To Slow Down ....Like This Week in Baltimore

There are times that you just have to slow down a this week in Baltimore.

After reading  Gary Woltol's post , I found the reason for driving through the cemetery yesterday. It was time to sloooow down, to enjoy the beauty and not worry about the other cars or the narrow lanes or traffic or getting somewhere.

The peace and quiet.... awesome and the snow was gently falling...again.

As Gary says...."Life does not have to be zoom zoom. Slow down. You'll get there."
The feathered critters were still there and some  literally walked on water. I thought for a moment or two I could actually see them shiver.. but maybe it was my imagination.  This cemetery is a very different scene in  winter.

                       Baltimore Snow HomeRome 410-530-2400

  Half coated with snow,  naked trees show the wind's effect.

                 Baltimore Snow HomeRome 410-530-2400

But I did slow down, taking in the cold air, the snow and water dripping on me with the window down and the camera outside. I took in the frigid fresh air and the beauty of our winter season.  There is so much to experience on our journey. Be careful not to miss these special times by going too fast. It not just the  the Roses we need to stop and smell. There is more to life if we are not going too fast.

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Friday, January 28, 2011

Snowmen...Baltimore Style... Some Assembly Required

It was not an easy job clearing our driveway..even with two neighbor kids, shovels and a snow blower. It was still an all day project.

                       shoveling HomeRome 410-530-2400                              

Some of the birds have come back to their brand new homes filled with new seed.

                        Baltimore Birds HomeRome 410-530-2400#####################################

The picture below is in answer to Pat Haddad's comment...''Margaret--Wow!  Did you get some snow!  I must be missing something, but I am not seeing the snowman that I am sure you had time to build since the neighbor did your driveway for you!''

Pat, Here are my snowmen...some assembly required!

                        snowmen for sale...unassembled


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Power Outages in Baltimore...Call 1-877-778-2222 - Don't assume BGE Knows

This is a power line in Baltimore covered with wet heavy snow. And this weight is what is causing the power outages all over our area. This winter beauty also brings with it danger.

Snow coated power line Baltimore

These two articles are from  last year's Baltimore blizzard...
How I Will Remember the Baltimore Blizzard of 2010 
  Shack Wacky Baltimore Neighborhood Freed by a Bobcat!

This is my neighbor Moishe Reches who knocked on my door a few minutes ago asking to shovel my steps and driveway. I was all ready to go out and start up the snow blower and make use of my shovel...already outside the door.

Moshe took my ready shovel and began his much appreciated work. Take a look at that blue vehicle..another neighbor whose car is now stuck in the street.

Thank you Moishe for  your kindness and hard work!

Moshe Reches  HomeRome 410-530-2400

Only a mile away, my daughter's condo has no power. No power means no electricity, no stove, no microwave, no heat, no lights and even more important NO INTERNET CONNECTION. She was able to dig her way to the car to recharge her iPhone. How in the world could I be stuck in the house with no connection. That would also mean NO ActiveRain! Guess we could all go snuggle.

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One More Photo Tonight...Heavy Snow

Had to take one more photo tonight just to show you the weight of the snow.

                                        Heavy Baltimore Snow HomeRome 410-530-2400

Our weather today in Baltimore was most unusual.  This morning snow, then clear, then rain, then sleet, then heavy snow and the latest is wind. These are the branches of my shade tree that also hold three bird feeders. That is a lot of weight... as you can see the branches are down on my porch chair.

This is a serious problem with power lines. Please check this information below from BGE.

Power Out or Downed Wire?
Call 1-877-778-2222 - Don't assume BGE knows

When reporting a power outage, your call goes directly to our trouble processing center for response. The system works by matching your phone number to your account, so it's important that we have your current phone number on file. If you move or change phone numbers, you can use our online account management service to update your phone number. You can also call BGE at 410-685-0123 to update your phone number. Please have your account number available when you call. Media should contact the media hotline for more information.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Talk Turns to Weather in Baltimore

When you live on the east coast and it is winter, sometimes talk turns to the this morning in Baltimore's was supposed to be rain. And we actually did have rain for a good portion of the day but now we are in a real winter storm with high winds.

I went out to shovel the front steps ..ha...changed my mind after just two pushes...that stuff is wet and VERY heavy. Instead decided to capture a bit of this magnificent beauty.

                                            Baltimore Snow HomeRome 410-530-2400      
                                    Baltimore Snow HomeRome 410-530-2400

                                     Baltimore Snow HomeRome 410-530-2400 

This tree in the back yard is swaying in the high winds and there is a branch already on the ground. I will try the shovel again in the morning and see what other pretty pictures there are to capture.

Forget the Snow...when you have a garage or a Condo!
So once again, talk turns to weather in Baltimore.

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What About This Looks Like Rain?

What About This Looks Like Rain?  When I went to bed last night, the forecast was for rain because the temperatures were way to high for snow. So I got up at my usual 5:30 to get ready for the gym, looked outside.....

Now please tell me what about this looks like rain?

Baltimore Snow HomeRome 410-530-2400  Baltimore Snow HomeRome 410-530-2400  Baltimore Snow HomeRome 410-530-2400

                                    Baltimore Snow HomeRome 410-530-2400

Yesterday, my birds got new feeders and filled to the brim with food. Such perfect timing..only now I have to wait for them to return. Guess they liked the old busted up feeders better.  Even my  Greedy little furry friends have not stopped by  for breakfast.  Where are my Birds?

Wonder if it will be anything like last year..when Baltimore was for the birds! 

So I ask  you again, What About This Looks Like Rain?

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Glocal #3 Brazil, Coffee, Certified Fair Trade

I think of  Carra  every day and her wonderful journey. This was a huge post to put together and with such limited internet... quite challenging.

I am enjoying each and every word and link.

Looking forward to more of Carra's thoughts as she continues to travel around our world.

Via Carra Riley CRB, CRS, GRI (Author, Speaker, Consultant, Second Homes AZ LLC):
Glocal #3 Brazil, Coffee, Certified Fair Trade

"Thinking Global Acting Local" lessons continue as we journey up the Amazon River.
Confronting The Coffee Crises:
On our way to Brazil, the largest coffee exporter in the world, we had the opportunity to listen to Lee GrossLee Gross on the Amazon explain his Masters research on small scale coffee production in the Dominican Republic. We are traveling down the Amazon River on the ML Explorer with the Spring 2011 Semester At Sea voyage learning new concepts from the voyage theme: Thinking Globally to Acting Locally on a daily basis.
The information Lee shared was really an awakening for me to really embrace the concept of supporting  “Certified Fair Trade” products.
I must admit I have been on the outside looking in with really understanding the importance of using my consumer dollar to support the environment and small scale farming families. Lee’s presentation “connected the dots” for me in understanding why we should buy “Certified Fair Trade” products.

Interesting facts about coffee production:

• 25 million families are “sustained” by coffee and its connected production products
• Shade grown coffee helps with soil conservation, provides habitat for bird life and consumptive fruits to families
• Brazil produces 1/3 of the world’s coffee
• Small production farms would be the size of a backyard in an American subdivision.
• Coffee is handpicked by millions of laborers and grows in remote mountainous areas. The largest cost to bring the coffee to market is the transportation by mule to the cooperative and export overseas
• Coffee is harvested only one time a year which creates a cash flow problem for small farmers
• Coffee is the 2nd most traded commodity in the world behind OIL
• Most small coffee growers receive $1 to $1.40 per pound
• President John F. Kennedy started the ICA International Coffee Agreement regulating coffee prices
• In 1989 the ICA was terminated which has resulted in an extremely volatile coffee market
• It takes 5-7 years from planting a coffee tree to harvest
• Farmers have all the risk with weather, disease and pests
• 63% of the coffee market is controlled by 5 big corporations: ie. Kraft, Proctor & Gamble, Nestles, Tchibo. who in 2001 at the heart of the coffee crisis experienced significant earnings
• Coffee can be differentiated through specialty coffee organizations, which purchase the highest quality coffee i.e. Starbucks, Green Mountain, Cooperative Coffees, Peats Coffee. Coffee can also be differentiated by purchasing single origin coffees
• Fair Trade is a certification, which ensures that farmers are paid a minimum price ($1.38-$1.50) plus a social premium for good practices, democracy in organization and additional premiums for organic production. Coffee by any roaster can be Fair Trade certified
• Certified Fair Trades growers have to produce products under specific condition to obtain the certification
• Many developing countries spend more in military expenses than in the education of their people
• There is no incentive to grow organic so only the consumer can help the farmers by paying more for certified products
• Organic certifications certify the productions method
• Fair Trade certifications certify the process of trade (i.e. labor practices, minimum price, transparency, etc.
• Many farmers do not have title to their land and cannot obtain loans

How can you help make a difference in supporting small farmers?  Follow the links below for a cliff note lesson!

1. Read about the Certified Fair Trade products, Specialty Coffees and Relationship Coffees. Don’t buy coffee in a can. Know where it comes from and that workers were paid a fair price. Buy certified and single origin coffees. Be a conscious consumer, your dollar speaks!

2. Be willing to pay more to help the environment and sustainability of the world. Support companies who can ensure transparency in process, social and environmental best practices.

3. Learn more about injustice happening everywhere and share with your friends.
sorting coffee beans
When I posted information about the class and helping small coffee growers on facebook the first person to comment was my friend Sadie Harris from France. She has been buying Certified Fair Trade products for years and makes a conscious effort to support the movement. Many Europeans are acutely aware of how this impacts the world. Traveling around the world, learning from educators in all fields of sustainability is certainly helping me connect more dots!  We are taking the global lessons and applying them to our local practices!
One person DOES make a difference and if that person shares with one other person who becomes aware of the environment and injustice then modifies their buying behavior the world can change. Remember to Buy Certified Fair Trade Products!
I am excited to hear back from you!  Read all the links and then let us know how it touched your life and what you are doing to share?
This post took days to finish with the bad Internet connection so thank you for your patience!  More to come Connecting The Dots Around The World!  Be sure to check out the contest to visit one of the seven wonders of the world!  Win an opportunity to visit the Grand Canyon and Williams, Arizona.

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A Good Problem to Have.. Standing Room Only

Last week at the GBBR there was  a 'standing room only' least for awhile ... the conference room overflowed until we were able to move to a larger space.

That is a good problem to have...Standing Room Only.

Thanks to Kim Jones of Keller Williams who does such a good job  arranging these get togethers at the Greater Baltimore Board of REALTORS. This was the first smart phone workshop and was presented by technicians from  Best Buy Mobile. They were able to answer  lots of questions about all types of phones and tablets.

Since Best Buy sells many different brands, it was very much so there will be a follow up session on the iPhone, iPad, Blackberry and Droid.

                         GBBR HomeRome 410-530-2400           Kim @ GBBR HomeRome 410-530-2400

                                               Best Buy@ GBBR HomeRome 410-530-2400

Of  those 50 people, only one other had the Palm Pre... and that was the Best Buy technician. I really love this phone... obviously not a very popular one.
                                                                      Palm Pre HomeRome 410-530-2400
The absolute best phone or technology is the ONE YOU WILL USE!

At the next workshop, the Best Buy techs  will be able to  answer your questions and help you decide which phone may be best for your needs or to help you better utilize the phone you already own. Thanks to Kim and Best Buy for this well attended FREE workshop.

The next workshop is Friday February 4th 9:30 am - 11:30am. Hope you can make it.

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What documentation do I need to get a pre-approval?

This is the kind of information that we need for buyers. Thanks to Bridget for making it available. I met Bridget through ActiveRain when she came to the very first  ActiveRain Open House.

You can see how  Bidget McGee who we call  Mortgage Mama  and  I worked together to get a difficult transaction to the settlement table.

Via Bridget "Mortgage Mama" McGee (Allied Home Mortgage Capital Corp 410-960-2061):
When a potential client calls me one of the questions they will ask is "What documentation do I need to get a pre-approval?"
Stated income loans are a thing of the past.  Getting a mortgage is a big deal. Lenders are requiring more and more documentation to prove your credit worthiness. In order to ensure that I am giving the most accurate pre-approval letter I will require the following:

1.   Mortgage Credit Report-I will need your full name current address, social security number and birthdate.   I will pull this through my credit agency unless you have a copy of one that has been pulled in the last 15 days through a mortgage company.  Consumer credit reports, auto dealer reports, etc. use different calculations to determine your score.  Although these reports will give us a ballpark as to where your score stands, it won't be used for the pre-approval.

2.  2 most recent consecutive pay stubs.-for both income and deductions (some may need to be included into your debt ratio)

3.  2 years w-2's -to show consistency of income

4.  2 years tax returns-If self-employed or you have any non-reimbursed business expenses.  If a VA loan, tax payments are taken into consideration for income calculation.

5.  Most recent two months bank statements/401K/investment, all pages  I am not only looking for the total of the assets you have available but for:
a.) overdrafts, non-sufficient funds charges
b.) large unverified deposits
c.) transfers to or from a different account 
d.) child support payments
e.)  Regular payments by check or transfer that may mean another debt that must be included in your numbers.

6.  If you are getting a gift for closing, I will probably have questions about the donor.

7.  Divorce Decrees, Bankruptcy paperwork may be required in certain circumstances.
Additional documentation will be required prior to submitting the loan for underwriter approval, and even more may be required by the underwriter upon review.  We will work together to make this process as smooth as possible, but be aware that you may be asked to hand over your first born.  Banks are getting more and more strict with lending guidelines so don't be surprised at the answer when you ask: What documentation do I need to get a pre-approval?

Warm Regards,
Bridget McGee  Maryland Mortgage Mama   Allied Home Mortgage Capital Corp #1448  410-960-2061 EHO

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Do You have any Condos in the Baltimore Area?

I love this kind of question from a phone call or email...Do You have any Condos in the Baltimore Area? When Can You Show Them?

My answer: When would you like to see them?

It has been busy for the past few days..lots of showings in spite of  our cool temperatures...this morning it was 13 degrees in the car but no problem showing condos. With their front lobbies and easy and out in no time...and no long walks in the frigid air.

In the past two days, I have shown all seven condos listed below. If you would like more information or would like to set up a private showing, please call me 410-530-2400
The links below will take you to see each property  with multiple photos and detailed descriptions.

Who Says Condos are Only For the Old Folks?
                                         7 Slade Baltimore Condo HomeRome 410-530-2400
                                           11 Slade Baltimore Coop HomeRome 410-530-2400


  The Towers 3031 Fallstaff Rd. Baltimore,MD 21209

     Towers Patio Baltimore Condo HomeRome 410-530-2400  The Towers Baltimore Condo HomeRome 410-530-2400


Park Towers East One Bedroom Condo 7111 Park Heights Ave

                        Park Towers EastBaltimore Condo HomeRome 410-530-2400  PTE #605 Baltimore Condo HomeRome 410-530-2400

       Baltimore Condo The Risteau HomeRome 410-530-2400            The Risteau HomeRome 410-530-2400

                        Gristmill # 501 HomeRome 410-530-2400  Gristmill # 501 HomeRome 410-530-2400

 Affordable Eleven Slade Coop #407 Baltimore County 21208 Under $85,000! 
                        11 Slade Living Room HomeRome 410-530-2400    11 Slade Balcony View HomeRome 410-530-2400

If you would like more information or to set up a private showing, please call me 410-530-2400

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Open Houses Can Be For the Birds...A Busy Baltimore Weekend

 I have been quite Busy With Real Estate in Baltimore This Weekend. Starting on Friday taking phone calls for appointments. When I found out that I had not one but two showings on Bixler Church, a light bulb went off..why not make it an  Impromptu Open House

When I am already at a listing, already have a scheduled appointment, it is to our advantage to make it an OPEN HOUSE.

Open Houses Can Be For the Birds. You see there was another open house going on...dozens and dozens of birds feasting off one feeder. There was even a beautiful red headed woodpecker. I was torn between getting some good photos of the birds OR doing my job showing the property. You can see by the quality of the pictures what my decision was. That "X" in the snow...probably deer tracks.

           Bixler Church Bird Feeder HomeRome 410-530-2400  Bixler Church HomeRome 410-530-2400    Tracks in the Snow HomeRome 410-530-2400

After we closed up the house we decided to stop at Baugher's for a late lunch. This is a delightful restaurant and farm market that is open all year long. As you can see from the sign, there was not too much outside. The temperatures were in the teens.

Baugher's HomeRome 410-530-2400   Baugher's HomeRome 410-530-2400  Baugher's HomeRome 410-530-2400

But we were made to feel very welcome.
                                                                                                                                                                      Baugher's HomeRome 410-530-2400   Baugher's HomeRome 410-530-2400  Baugher's Bananas HomeRome 410-530-2400

Quite a few other showings this weekend but this post is long enough!

Open Houses Can Be For the Birds...A Busy Baltimore Weekend.

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