"Old School" real estate vs “New School" real estate

My buyer wrote an offer 4 days ago and we still don’t have it signed by the sellers.  

The listing agent’s sellers are on vacation and because the agent doesn’t know how to use electronic signing systems, he is taking much more time than is necessary to get this deal in place.

This delay impacts my buyer, the lender, the title company, contract time frames and of course, our confidence in getting the deal done. The seller could have been in jeopardy of losing these buyers due to frustrations and concerns.

 Let’s look at a real life example of the "old school" vs the "new school" way of working.

Imagine that your home is listed for sale and you’re on a vacation you planned months ago. You’re sitting under an umbrella by the ocean, your feet in the sand and a cold drink in your hand. You’re watching your friends and family have fun and it makes you feel happy. You deserve this down time. You glance at your phone and see that you received an email from your agent with paperwork needing your signature. Is your agent “old school” or “new school?"

 The next 3-4 hours of your vacation can play out in two ways:

#1 “Old School" 

The email says you have to print the attachment and sign and then scan back to the agent. Your blood pressure climbs. There is no printer in the vacation house you rented. You’re finally on vacation…one that you more than deserve…and you have to go back to the house, do some research about local Kinkos or UPS stores, call to make sure they are open and get directions, get their email address, send the document to them, go to the store to sign, have them scan back to you and then email it back to your agent. You’re mad. Your family is mad. You missed a great beach day. Tomorrow it will rain and you’ll be even madder.  

#2 “New School”

You gently place your drink in the sand, then click on the link in the email. The link takes you to Dot Loop and it says “click here to start signing.” You click once for each initial and signature and when you’re done, click “confirm signing.” You turn your phone off and pick your drink back up. You realize you’ve been outside for a while and it’s time to reapply your sunscreen.

 “New School” agents help their clients by using the latest technology so that deals are done faster and your life is easier. When you choose your realtor, ask about the systems, processes and technology that your agent is using. Enjoy your vacation and let your “new school” agent do the work for you.

-Wendy Slaughter

Savvy Buyers: Building a house? Here are some some things to add & some things to skip!

Here are some of our recommendations for making selections on new construction or remodeling your home…and some options to skip!

Skip the Following:

Remove oversized/glued-on mirrors in bathrooms.  This is another easy step to make a home look more custom.  Simply ask the builder NOT to install any mirrors and then go shopping for framed mirrors from a discount store like TJMaxx, Home Goods, or Ikea.  If you are remodeling, remove the glued-on mirror, repair walls if necessary, and replace with framed mirrors (or leave the mirror on the wall and have a contractor frame it out with trim wood).


Remove cheap closet organizers.  Remove the cheap wire rack shelves and rods and replace with custom closet organizers you can find at Lowes or Home Depot.  Even IKEA has solid wood closet systems. To save some time and money, ask the builder not to install these if you are building a home.

Delete Drawer Pulls/Knobs and Plumbing and Lighting Fixtures.  Builders often have only a few choices of these and if you do not like them, ask the builder to give you a credit and install the ones that you purchase on your own (that you can find at Anthropologie, Pottery Barn, Overstock, Lowes, Home Depot, etc.).

Make Sure to Include the Following:

Add recessed and puck or pot lights as often as possible. Have your framer build braces for future ceiling fans if you choose not to install them right away.   You may want to hire a lighting specialist to help you with this.  If an attic is above the ceiling, the project is pretty straightforward.  But adding lights to finished ceiling areas requires cutting holes in the drywall and drilling through the joists to fish the wire through the framing.

Extend wood flooring into high traffic areas.  Even though it costs more, it is worth it.  Wood floor hallways or family rooms are always desirable, plus, you can throw a rug down if needed.

Add an outlet in the pantry.  Many homeowners keep a toaster oven, blender, and other small appliances (even a Swiffer Vac) in the pantry.  By adding an outlet, these items can be plugged in at all times and don’t take up valuable counter space.

These are just a few ideas that can get your juices flowing when you’re remodeling or building a new home.

- Debbie Gottwals

Savvy Buyers: What’s up with that house?

People are always asking us how they can find more information about a particular property. Of course, the easiest way is to contact your friendly and helpful realtor who can do all of that work for you...but many people like to do their own research. So, for all of you curious people out there, here are some resources that you may find useful in your search:

State Department of Assessments & Taxation

This is the best place to start when you are seeking general information on a property. To pull a property's tax record, first select the county and then search by the address. Want to learn more about reading a tax record?   Check out our blog about it.


Interested in finding out if a house obtained permits before putting up a fence, finishing that basement or obtained a rental license before renting it out? Every county has a different online system for searching for permits. Some of the databases are only for a certain time frame, so it never hurts to call and ask about a particular property. Here are a few (click on the county to go to the website):

Anne Arundel County

Baltimore City

Baltimore County - No online search capabilities, but you can call with an address 410-887-3353

Carroll County - No online search capabilities, but you can call with an address 410-386-2674

Frederick County

Howard County - You have to create an account, it is free. You can also call them at 410-313-2455

Montgomery County

Prince George’s County

Plats & Recorded Deeds

So everyone knows (or at least Tess thinks everyone knows) that Google Maps enables you to see the lot where a property is located (you have to zoom into the map). How would you obtain the actual plat for a property? You would go to your county’s courthouse to the Land Records division (typically overseen by the Clerk of the Court). This magical place gives you the opportunity to pull recorded public information about a property like the deed and plat. Maryland put all of this information online and it can be accessed here. Of course, you can also go to the land records building to do your own search (Quick side note: Tess loves these places because she is a real estate nerd).

Market Value

I wish we could give you a link to a site that would provide accurate home values but the truth is, your best resource is a realtor (or an appraiser – see our awesome blog on how an appraisal works). There are websites that will give you an idea of the value of a home (we’re looking at you Zillow), but as a team, we do not advocate the use of these sites due to the many inaccuracies we’ve seen. Their “Zestimates” may not take into account the upgrades that a home has in comparison to other homes in the neighborhood. We too often see Zestimates that are very far from the true value. Your best bet is to reach out to a professional who knows the area.

Feel free to reach out to us anytime. We’re here to help!