Maureen Harmonay - Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage



Posted by Maureen Harmonay on 3/8/2016

The housing market has been heating up and lately there seems to be more buyers than homes. So where do you start when house hunting? Many buyers like to start at Open Houses to get a feel for the market. It is always best to try to find a real estate agent to help guide you through the buying process , however, if you want to try to get your feet wet first an Open House might be your best bet. There are some things you will want to know about how to tackle an Open House: 1. How do you find Open Houses? Your best bet is to find a real estate professional that represents buyers and have them help you find Open Houses that are right for you. Agents are familiar with the inventory and could save you an unnecessary trip to a house that isn't right for you. Most open houses take place on Saturday or Sunday, so Thursday is a good day to start your search. 2. Be prepared Plan your route, make sure you have the right directions and have plenty of gas to get where you are going. Take along a pen and paper to make notes on properties. 3. Get to know the area The house may be great; but how is the area? Take the time to drive around the surrounding neighborhoods of homes you like and get to know the area. A real estate professional is a great resource for community information. 4. Check for agency Most agents at an Open House represent the seller. You will want to work with an agent that is able to represent you as the buyer. If you like the agent at the Open House, and have not yet contracted with an agent, make sure to discuss agency and representation. 5. Take notes Take notes and write down a list of quick pros and cons after you have viewed a home. This will help you remember the houses you have viewed. Viewing Open Houses can help you get a sense for what’s out there in the marketplace. It will help you determine if the house you want and your finances match up with the houses that are on the market. It is always best to find a real estate professional to help you find the home of your dreams. Buying a home is no small matter.





Posted by Maureen Harmonay on 11/10/2015

Buying a home can be a scary and confusing process. It is easy to get confused by all of the homes, locations, and what is truly important to you when buying a home. First you will want to determine what you can afford. To do that you will want to get preapproved. That means a bank; mortgage broker or credit union will determine how much of loan you qualify for based on your income, debt and credit score. They will give a pre-approval letter stating how much you can afford. Now it is time to pick a real estate professional to help you find the right home, negotiate on your behalf and help you navigate through the process. It is important that you choose an agent that is reputable; you have interviewed to find a good fit and is willing to listen to your needs. Many buyers often confuse their needs with their wants. Making a list of what you actually need and what you want or your wish list is very helpful when looking for a home. Buying a home is typically a process of elimination. Many home buyers often dismiss homes that perfectly fit their needs in search for one that has their wants. This doesn’t mean you can have your wish list, but home buying is more often defined by your budget than wish lists. To help with this process it is typically helpful to make a list of needs and wants.

Examples of NEEDS Examples of WANTS
Reasonable square footage for comfortable living Paint, carpet, counter tops, accessories.
Bedrooms to accommodate your family Pool or Jacuzzi (unless for medical reasons)
Adequate number of bathrooms Wood floors
Eat-in kitchen Bay windows, skylights
Garage or basement for storage needs Entertainment centers,  moldings, decks and patios
Lot size to accommodate children's play area Upgraded lighting fixtures
Adaptation for Handicapped View
Proximity to a specific school
Single floor living for health reasons
Each individual will have a different list of needs and wants. Your own list will help you evaluate homes as you go through the process. Sharing this list with your real estate professional will also help narrow down your search. The goal is to find a house that includes all of your needs and meets as many of your wants as is practical in your budget.





Posted by Maureen Harmonay on 7/22/2014

Is a condominium right for you? The market has been steadily rising for the past few years but condo living may not be for everyone. Condo buyers typically fall into three categories: -First-time buyers -Second home or vacation home owners -Retirees looking for a low-maintenance alternative Under the right set of circumstances a condominium can be a great purchase. Before you run out and shop for condos you have to be comfortable living with rules and restrictions, and in close proximity to others. There are different types of condominiums. They can take the form of apartment-style complexes, townhouses or converted multi-family dwellings. Most condominiums have common areas, such as stairwells, dividing and outer walls, fitness centers, pools, walking paths and gardens. These common areas are under shared ownership. Each unit owner holds an interest in these spaces. Because space is shared there needs to a way to manage the maintenance, repair and costs of these common areas. To deal with that and other issues that involve space sharing every condo development has a condominium association. The association is typically elected by condo owners and makes communal decisions in the interest of the community. When you find a condominium you are interested in you will want to inquire about the association: Some questions you may want to ask are:

  • Does the association maintain reserve of funds to pay for unexpected and potentially expensive repairs? If so, how much is in reserve and how is it managed?
  • Has the association maintained the building in good repair? Are there currently or any planned special assessments?
  • Does the association have plans to add any facilities, such as a swimming pool or gym, in the near future?
  • Does the development have any pending legal actions? Are there any disputes between owners, with developers or with the association that you should know about?
  • Buying a condo also comes with costs some are similar to a single family home purchase while others are condo specific. These costs include:
    • Down payment, mortgage and property tax
    • Condo fees, otherwise known as maintenance fees. Condo fees are paid by every resident to help with the maintenance of the building, pay the salaries of groundskeepers, concierges or handymen, and provide luxury facilities such as a pool, gym or rooftop garden. Condo fees are paid monthly and are subject to change. The condominium association budgets and determines the condo fees for all units. Condo fees are typically determined by the size of your unit, how many units are currently occupied, and the projected expenses for building maintenance and repair.
    • Special assessment fees. These fees may be requested when an unexpected repair or planned modification exceeds the cost of the condo fees collected
    • One of the most important considerations is to determine if you can live with the condominium rules or covenants. The rules vary from one condo development to another. Some condominiums may impose restrictions on pet ownership, noise levels, remodeling projects, and renting. Always read the condo rules and regulations to make sure that you are comfortable with them before you make a commitment to purchase.





Posted by Maureen Harmonay on 6/24/2014

You have decided to sell. But before you put the sign in the yard there are some things you will want to make sure you have done. Time spent doing research and setting the right price will most likely yield you a better return in the end. A home is only worth what a buyer is willing to pay for it. Track your neighborhood values Find out what homes similar to yours are selling for in your neighborhood so you will have a good idea what your home is worth. Buyer or seller market You need to judge whether it's a sellers' market or a buyers' market in your neighborhood. Remember that all real estate is local. You will want to research things like interest rates, home inventory, job forecasts, and even time of year. Research inventory How many homes are for sale? If you live in a desirable neighborhood and there aren't many homes for sale, you will have a clear edge here. However, if you see lots of homes on the market and they're not selling very quickly, you might have to reduce the price you had in mind. Know the average days on the market Review the homes in your neighborhood and their days on market sometimes referred to as DOM. Look at trends for the past year and assess whether homes were appreciating or depreciating. Monitor the job market Is a big company relocating workers to your area? Or are they moving out and shutting the doors? The job market has a lot to do with the real estate market. Attend nearby open houses Observe how other properties are showing and compare them to your home. At an open house you can often feel the "mood" of potential buyers. Get a professional opinion A real estate professional will be able to help you gather all of the above information and come up with a CMA or comparable market analysis to determine the best price range for you home.





Posted by Maureen Harmonay on 3/4/2014

An Open House can be an integral part of selling a home. Not every home is a candidate for an Open House due to factors like market conditions, location or condition. If you are planning an Open House there are some helpful hints to ensure you have the most successful Open House on the block. Here are some tips on how to have the perfect Open House:

  • In most communities, Sunday afternoon is typical and expected.
  • Two hours is also typical.
  • Avoid conflicts with holidays, community celebrations or special events such as the Super Bowl.
  • If possible try to be aware of the weather forecast, although this may be difficult to do.
There are some things you can do prior to your Open House to help it succeed. At least one week prior to your first Open House:
  • Host a brokers only Open House. Agents and brokers will preview your home and identify possible buyers they have for your home.
  • Make your home look as large as possible by moving large pieces of furniture into storage.
  • Remove items not included in the sale. Remove the chandelier you got for a wedding present and the bookcase that fits so perfectly it looks built-in. If buyers don't see it, they won't want it.
  • Take Fido with you. Make arrangements for your pets to leave the house when it is being shown.
  • Two to Three Days Before Your First Open House Clean the house top to bottom. Get in every nook and cranny, wipe down the walls, windowsills, vacuum the corners and baseboards and yes wash those windows.
    • Clean and buff your appliances, that includes the stove inside and out.
    • Launder all the bedding, towels, rugs and other fabrics in your home.
    • Touch up spots on the walls.
    • Sweep and clean out the garage.
    • Mow the lawn, sweep the sidewalks, and clean up the bushes and flowers.
    24 Hours Before Your First Open House
  • Air out the house by opening the windows.
  • Make your home smell delicious by baking bread or apple pie.
  • Go through each room one by one and try to look for last minute fixes.
  • Add an arrangement of flowers.