Thursday, April 22, 2010

Falling in Love is Wonderful! So says Seth Godin!

Falling in Love Is Wonderful!

A couple of days ago, Seth Godin wrote a blog about buying a house. He called it "How to Buy a House" and started it off with, "Actually, how to think about buying a house." He went on to talk about the "…enormous social pressure and the expectations that come with…." being in the market for a house, and gave some great advice to people thinking about buying.

Blueprints and house

I couldn't resist – I had to write him a fan letter. This may be my favorite post of Seth's so far. He reminds the reader that, "A house is not just an investment, it's a place to live." And, "You shouldn't fall in love with a bond or a stock or a piece of gold…" but "…you just might fall in love with a house."

Falling in love is wonderful!

Family at fence in front  of house

No question, buying a home is an emotional decision. Even if you find everything you think you want – the right neighborhood, the right school, the right number of bedrooms, the right look, the fireplace, the gardens, the garage, the man cave, even the lower level ping pong room – it still may not be right. It's like when you were dating. He looked right, was tall enough, good sense of humor, good education, your friends liked him…but something was missing. I think we call it chemistry. The same is true with the house - you gotta fall in love! Falling in Love is Wonderful!

Birdhouse homeIn his blog Seth cautions against buying too much house or falling under the spell of great marketing and being pressured into paying too much for a house. He reminds his readers to step back when looking at a house, to take out the investment aspect, and just look at it as a house you love, then decide.

Falling In Love Is Wonderful!

As seasoned agents, we can see when a house is right, when a house just fits. We can just look at the buyer’s face, listen to the chemistry, and we know. It may not be exactly what they described, but it is exactly what they want.

Falling in Love is Wonderful!

Realtor Magazine's Open House Master Video is Here! First ActiveRain Open House Update!

Realtor Magazine's Open House Video is Here! First ActiveRain Open House Update!

All those hours of trying to look good and sound professional for the camera paid off - the video of the First Active Rain Open House is here!

Realtor Magazine video page

You'll recall that REALTOR® Magazine was here for two days last month. They came to shoot a video about techniques for successful open houses for their Masters Series. It was the perfect opportunity to get ActiveRain friends together - and we had a great time. On the first day we had an open house at one property and followed it with a delicious crab dinner and great conversation. The second day, the cameras followed us again, this time starting in the early morning for a workout at the gym (C Tann was amazing!) and then to the second open house. What a treat it was to have so many ActiveRain friends there, and finally meet the legendary Lenn Harley.

Realtor Magazine's Open House Video is Here! First ActiveRain Open House Update!

Margaret, Lenn Harley, Helen Dellheim

The First AcctiveRain Open House is history, but preserved forever thanks to REALTOR Magazine. It was a two-day marathon, and from all that time and filming, they boiled it down to about 7 minutes of video! You'll see some familiar faces in the video - how many can you pick out?

Once again, I thank all my good friends and new friends for coming together to make the First Active Rain Open House a great success.

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Friday, April 16, 2010

Sherwood Gardens is Abloom in Baltimore, MD

The time is now: Sherwood Gardens is Abloom in Baltimore, MD with its annual show of flowering trees and plants. I love this time of year when we make our annual visit to the gardens begun in 1927 by John Sherwood. Gardening was his hobby then, and over the years his private garden has become public; it is now owned by a neighborhood association in Baltimore City. Over the years, Sherwood Gardens has grown to become one of the largest tulip gardens in the country with over 80,000 bulbs planted each fall. After they bloom, many are dug up and sold to the public over Memorial Day weekend – another Baltimore tradition.

Large blooming cherry tree

Many people know about the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC that happens every year at the beginning of April. That's when the hundreds of cherry trees around the Tidal Basin near the Jefferson Memorial reach their peak. But you don't have to go to DC to enjoy cherry blossoms – the cherry trees at Sherwood Gardens are beautiful now. Since many of the trees were planted long ago, they are large and put on a magnificent show each spring.

Cherry blossoms Cherry blossoms and tulips

Brilliant pink tulips Gnarly bark on tree Tulips and trees in Sherwood Gardens

Combine the beautiful pale or bright pink cherry blossoms with the brilliant colors of the tulips, and you have a springtime flower treasury. In about a week, the azaleas will add their brilliance to the show. There was one tree with wonderful rumpled bark; I think it might be a sycamore, but I'm no arborist - I just like the texture.

Classic stone home in Guilford

Brick home in Guilford

Since Sherwood Gardens is in the middle of the Guilford neighborhood, you pass some magnificent old homes while looking for a place to park. The gardens, surrounded by these homes, make for a stress-relieving mid-day vacation. I make it a point to visit Sherwood Gardens every year when they are abloom.

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Monday, April 12, 2010

Doug and Karen and Ellie Got Married and Bought a House!

Doug and Karen and Ellie Got Married and Bought a House!

Cherry Blossoms

Photographing these cherry blossoms, I knew it was the perfect day...perfect for a wedding. Doug and Karen and Ellie got married Saturday April 10, 2010. Their day was as pretty and as perfect as these spring blossoms.

Doug and Karen and Ellie Got Married and Bought a House!

It's so wonderful to see someone you've known for 15 years grow from a smart young guy into such a fine young man. Doug has been my friend, main techie and website 'go-to' expert through numerous computers and tech challenges, but he's always gotten me through. Now, he's a family man and soon-to-be new homeowner, all in the space of a few days.

The setting was beautiful Zion Church in Baltimore, MD. The church at 400 East Lexington Street is one of those big old churches with high ceilings, magnificent woodwork, and a history that goes back 255 years in Baltimore. It sits directly across from Baltimore's City Hall and serves a bilingual congregation as the German Church in Baltimore.

Ellie helped with the elevator sign

Doug, Karen and Ellie in ceremony I Like You book coverGuest list and table numbers

On this spring day, the fine old building welcomed Doug and Karen along with four-year-old Ellie as they became a family. I love the way Doug and Karen made Ellie part of the wedding, even reading the book, "I Like You" to all the children. So much love and warmth filled the old church, followed by good eating, music, and much merriment in the church hall.

Ellie, Doug and Karen

New   family dancing

Church hall and reception

Their new home HomeRome.comWe are all wishing Doug, Karen, and Ellie a lifetime of love and happiness together as they move into their new home.

We settle next week, just 10 days after that spring celebration of love when Doug and Karen and Ellie got married in Baltimore.

Doug and Karen and Ellie Got Married and Bought a New House! And they will live happily ever after!


Friday, April 09, 2010

College Hills III in Catonsville, Maryland 21228 – Quiet, Convenient, Comfortable

College Hills III in Catonsville, Maryland 21228 - Quiet, Convenient, Comfortable

College Hills

People who have discovered the College Hills developments in Catonsville, MD, talk about the quiet, convenient, and comfortable neighborhoods they love. There are four sections on 130 acres and just over 250 homes total in College Hills that have been built beginning in the late 1980's. The first two sections were single-family homes, and the third and fourth are townhomes and cluster homes. Neighborhoods have small, winding cul-de-sacs with a lot of privacy and very little traffic from nearby Catonsville's busy streets.

View from deck 5 Wake Forest Ct

Parkland  5 Wake Forest Ct

There definitely are hills in College Hills, and the stream, valleys and rocky terrain gave the designers some interesting challenges. One of the great attractions of this area is that it is close to Patapsco Valley State Park, and some of the homes actually back up to park land.

That's the case in Section III of College Hills where 5 Wake Forest Court is located. This group of 45 townhomes is special for many reasons; owners appreciate that the College Hills III HOA takes care of the roof(cedar shakes & shingles) the cleaning and replacement of gutters and downspouts, the siding, and all exterior maintenance including the steps and driveway repair, as well as all landscaping including cutting and fertilization. Just think of living with no outside maintenance. So it really is possible to leave the big home worry and enjoy living in a luxury home with beautiful views, your own private deck, and a garage to house and protect your special automobile.

5 Wake Forest

Rear View - 5 Wake Forest Ct

And yes, there is a college – in fact, there are two. College Hills is walking distance to the campus of the Community College of Baltimore County, but the campus of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County is also just minutes away.

Living Room fireplace 5 Wake Forest Ct Finished lower level with fireplace

5 Wake Forest Court is one of the most desirable townhomes in the College Hills III development. This special home has two fireplaces, one in the living room and the other in the finished, two-level family room. Gleaming hardwood floors with inlay cover the entire first level including the eat in kitchen with bay window and breakfast area. French doors lead to a spacious deck (with a gas hookup for the grill!) and broad views to watch the change of seasons. The lower level has a set of sliding glass doors to enjoy the outside garden and landscaping. This family room area with nine-foot ceilings also has a third full bath which makes it a convenient guest suite with a wet bar and mini refrigerator. There's plenty of room here for the big TV and entertaining family and friends.

Finished lower level with walkout

A total of three bedrooms and two full baths upstairs can be used as two master bedrooms. A Jacuzzi tub, walk in shower, two sinks, cathedral ceilings, a dressing room and a walk in fitted closet complete the main master bedroom suite. The other has a tub and shower, dressing room, two closets, and two doors to the bathroom to accommodate the third bedroom. The entire bedroom area has updated wall-to-wall carpeting.

Being close to Patapsco Valley State Park is a great extra with this home. The park extends 32 miles along the Patapsco River, encompassing 14,000 acres and five developed recreational areas that allow for hiking, fishing, camping, canoeing, horseback trails, mountain bike trails and picnicking. This College Hills III home, also convenient to I-95, the Baltimore Beltway I-695, is minutes away from downtown Baltimore, and has easy access to Annapolis and Washington, DC.

College Hills III in Catonsville, MD is indeed quiet, convenient, and comfortable, and an ideal place to call home.

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Monday, April 05, 2010

Moving UP…to Upper Park Heights in Baltimore, MD 21215

More and more people are Moving UP… to Upper Park Heights in Baltimore, MD 21215. There are some great condos in this area where people of all ages are discovering that Upper Park Heights has much to offer as a community.

Sinai Hospital in Baltimore MD

Here you will find Sinai Hospital, where I was a former head nurse, with its long history of service. Founded in 1866 as the Hebrew Hospital and Asylum, Sinai has evolved into a Jewish-sponsored health care organization providing care for all people. It is a teaching hospital that counts among its faculty many nationally and internationally recognized experts in their fields, many of whom also hold teaching positions at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Horse Race Flat Caleb at Pimlico Race Course

In Upper Park Heights, you will also find thousands of people heading for the races, especially in the middle of May. That's when the Preakness Stakes – "The "Middle Jewel" of horse racing's triple crown – is run at Pimlico Race Track. Now surrounded by Baltimore, Pimlico was out in the country when it was built in 1870, and it remains the second oldest racetrack in the country after Saratoga, NY. You might remember that Flat Caleb visited Pimlico with me a couple of years ago.

Penthouse Condo Living Room

Nearby Park Towers West is a good example of the condos available here. The Penthouse unit was one of my favorite listings – the original three bedroom, three bath condo was transformed into a 1 bedroom 2 1/2 bath luxury retreat with the best storage I've seen. A dream kitchen and custom built-ins throughout made this penthouse a delight.

In the companion Park Towers East, you'll find equally nice condos including #806 which is just the right size for a single or couple. Not too big to be easy care, not too small with two bedrooms, eat-in kitchen, one and a half baths, and wonderful views from the covered balcony, and with a location convenient to all that Upper Park Heights has to offer.

JCC Logo Entrance to Milldale Camp

The Park Heights Jewish Community Center (JCC) has been a hub of Baltimore's Jewish community for decades. The guiding principles of respecting diversity of thinking and expression are seen throughout the center's activities. It offers a gym, sauna, indoor and outdoor pools, and many camp programs. The Peggy and Yale Gordon Center for the Performing Arts and the Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Art Gallery art gallery offer a variety of cultural events. At the gallery, art is sometimes imported from Israel and often tied in with the holidays. The JCC also provides space for classes, meetings, and events. Classes aren't necessarily on Jewish themes; you can study writing, painting, Shakespeare, and more. The JCC also offers baby-sitting, clubs for young adults (including those with special needs) and parenting courses. It occasionally hosts literary readings in the evenings and has a film festival.

Condo Balcony View Brick Colonia Clarks Lane

Just up the street from the JCC is the 6200 block of Park Heights Avenue, home to some of my favorite real estate in Baltimore. Whether you are looking for a cozy condo or a brick colonial, moving up to Upper Park Heights is a great move.

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Thursday, April 01, 2010

Charming Cheswolde Neighborhood in Baltimore, MD 21209

Charming Cheswolde Neighborhood in Baltimore, MD 21209

Cheswolde is a charming neighborhood in Baltimore, MD.

Actually, Baltimore has long been known as a city of neighborhoods., a nonprofit organization that promotes living in Baltimore City, has information on many of the 225 neighborhoods that make up this wonderfully diverse city.

Before Baltimore City annexed part of Baltimore County in 1918, Cheswolde was a small area that was home to the hunting lodge of Charles Carroll of Carrolton, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Mature trees of Cheswolde neighborhood

For many decades, Cheswolde remained a sleepy suburb, and it was not until the building boom times of the 1940s and 1950s that many of the homes here today were built. Where the Curtis-Wright Airfield once operated a flight school into the 1950s, now there are single family homes (old and new), townhouses, garden apartments and condos. Today, Cheswolde is a charming mixture and one of my favorite Baltimore neighborhoods. But maybe that's also because it's my neighborhood, too!

The Towers Condo Dining Room Heather Ridge Condo Living Room

5905 Berkeley kitchen

You know that I love to list and sell homes in Cheswolde. For years I have walked the quiet streets and watched as houses come and go and also figured out They Are Not Making Anymore Land in Baltimore 21209

Cheswolde offers many properties that combine a country-like setting with near-to-everything convenience, like the modern residences at Heather Ridge on Red Cedar Place. Not far away on Fallstaff Road, The Towers Condominium also offers carefree living that is walking distance to shopping.

Charming Cheswolde Neighborhood in Baltimore, MD 21209

5905 Berkeley back with patio HomeRome.comCheswolde home built in 1909

If a single family home with one-floor living is your preference, we have that, too, in homes like this custom contemporary brick rancher. This home is in a settled neighborhood with the mature trees and carefully tended gardens that show how much people enjoy the living here.

In fact, for some people it's a life-long experience. A couple of years ago I sold a home for a charming 85-year-old lady who had lived in Cheswolde literally since the day she was born, in that house that her father built, and in the same room that later became her bedroom.

I've enjoyed the charms of Cheswolde for many years, and I know that it is one of Baltimore's finest neighborhoods.

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