Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Half-Marathon Finisher Gets Caught Cheating, Is A Dog

Here's Dozer the Goldendoodle crossing the finish line of the Maryland Half Marathon last week. Already he's become something of a local legend, with media interviewing his owner and volunteers pledging thousands of dollars in donations on his official runner page. But something's not right. Look at that video again. Dozer barely appears tired, trotting along with a big smile on his face. Is that the face of someone that just ran 13.1 miles?
Sadly no. As we build our heroes up just to tear them down, so must we rain on Dozer's parade. According to his owner, Dozer escaped from his front yard as the half-marathon passed by his house, near the 5 mile marker. Yes, Dozer, beloved by children and sportsmen alike, didn't even complete a third-marathon.
And yet this canine Rosie Ruiz is still being held up as a feel-good story, something for the nation to rally around in the midst of a recession and two wars. It's our own fault, I suppose. In these trying times, we all wanted something pure to believe in, something true and real and good. We thought we had it in a 3-year-old Goldendoodle's fight against all odds to complete an unknown little fun run, and despite all the evidence against him, we still want to believe.
Half-Marathon Finisher Gets Caught Cheating, Is A DogBut we can't keep up this charade any longer. Dozer must be stripped of his medal immediately, and an investigation must be launched into his rumored use of Purina Pro Plan, identified by WADA as a banned substance. We fell for this before, with Lance Armstrong; we're not going to have our hearts broken again, by a duplicitous puppy hungry for glory at any cost.
By Barry Petchesky 
See video below of dogie crossing the finish line 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Seven is ready for a home!

Ruff Ruff! My name is Seven

Adopt a Pet ::  Seven - Chester, MD -  Labrador RetrieverMix
Adopt a Pet :: Photo 1: Seven - Chester, MD -  Labrador Retriever Mix
Adopt a Pet :: Photo 2: Seven - Chester, MD -  Labrador Retriever Mix
Adopt a Pet :: Photo 3: Seven - Chester, MD -  Labrador Retriever Mix
Adopt a Pet :: Photo 4: Seven - Chester, MD -  Labrador Retriever Mix

Seven's Info...

Breed:Labrador Retriever MixColor:Tan/Yellow/FawnAge:Puppy
Size:Large 61-100 lbs (28-45 kg)Sex:Male
I am already neutered, up to date with shots, good with kids, and good with dogs.
Seven's Story...
Entered 5/10/11
Cute Puppy with a sweet disposition. This 13 week old male Lab puppy is anxiously waitting for find his new home and family.

Seven will be neutered, up-to-date on shots, and micro chipped by the time he goes home. In the meantime, he and his sister, May, will entertain their caregivers at ARF .
Call the center to inquire about Seven. 410-643-8700

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Stevensville MD Real Estate Overview

The median sales price for homes in Stevensville MD for Feb 11 to Apr 11 was $289,900. This represents an increase of 3.1%, or $8,700, compared to the prior quarter and an increase of 10.6% compared to the prior year. Sales prices have depreciated 18.3% over the last 5 years in Stevensville. The average listing price for Stevensville homes for sale on Trulia was $727,520 for the week ending May 04, which represents a decline of 1.2%, or $8,772, compared to the prior week and a decline of 8.9%, or $70,786, compared to the week ending Apr 13. Average price per square foot for Stevensville MD was $177, a decrease of 7.8% compared to the same period last year.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Very Funny Dog Video

This has nothing to do with Real Estate but this is very cute!

My Next Home

Bin Laden's Brother's Pad in ST Petersburg Florida- 5 Bedroom

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – For sale: a five-bedroom, Mediterranean-style mansion with a red, barrel-tiled roof and arched doorways and windows. It even comes with some notoriety as it was once owned by one of Osama bin Laden's brothers.

Khalil bin Laden, one of the terrorist mastermind's 54 siblings, bought the home in 1980 for $1.6 million, but the wealthy businessman and his family fled their vacation spot under police escort shortly after 9/11, fearing they might be targeted because of the terrorist attacks. The 1920s-era mansion has sat empty ever since.

The home is in Oakland, Fla., a quiet small town about 20 miles west of Orlando. There's a pool, horse stables and a four-car detached garage. It has fallen into a bit of disrepair due to vandals and humid Florida weather, but the real estate agent in charge of selling the property said it can easily be restored to its previous grandeur.

Asking price: $1,999,000.

Khalil bin Laden's children used to run up and down the stairs, playing near the quiet lake in the back when the bin Laden name meant wealth and prestige. Then came Sept. 11, 2001.
Eventually, boards covered windows that overlooked the 1,200 feet of private lake shoreline.
In February 2006, at the height of Florida's housing boom, Khalil bin Laden sold the property for $4 million, property records show, to a businessman who later went bankrupt and was sentenced to seven years in prison for fraud.

The home was eventually foreclosed on, said Autumn Norris-Makin, the Florida real estate agent who has been trying to sell the property for over a year. It was recently named by Forbes as one of the "creepiest abandoned mansions" in the U.S.

Norris-Makin said she's had a lot of interest despite the asking price. One person was thinking about turning the property into a bed and breakfast. "It's an amazing property," she said Wednesday. "But not a lot of people have that kind of money right now. It would sell in a second if everyone knew the economy would turn around."

By TAMARA LUSH, Associated Press Tamara Lush, Associated Press

Chester Maryland Real Estate Market Summary

Average price per square foot for Chester MD was $168, a decrease of 2.9% compared to the same period last year. The median sales price for homes in Chester MD for Jan 11 to Mar 11 was $216,000 based on 21 home sales. Compared to the same period one year ago, the median home sales price decreased 14.5%, or $36,500, and the number of home sales decreased 12.5%. There are currently 82 resale and new homes in Chester on Trulia, including 4 open houses, as well as 8 homes in the pre-foreclosure, auction, or bank-owned stages of the foreclosure process. The average listing price for homes for sale in Chester MD was $475,443 for the week ending Apr 27, which represents an increase of 2.9%, or $13,547, compared to the prior week.

Check out My homes

Are you a Tycoon in the making?

Malynda Williams is a real estate tycoon in the making. She's putting together a mini real estate empire as she eases into retirement.

 ."NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Malynda Williams didn't set out to be a real estate tycoon. But the 40-something has managed to acquire four properties over the past three years, and she's looking for more.

Her first buy came in October 2008, a vacation home on the Texas Gulf Coast, 225 miles south of her home base in College Station. She and husband John planned to retire there someday.
"My husband used to travel for work in the oil fields," she said. "We knew it was reasonable to buy a home there, and the people are so friendly."
They bought a four-bedroom place for $540,000 in Aransas pass near Rockport, a city of 8,000 residents on Aransas Bay.
The area boasts a nice beach and great fishing. Visitors from all over the world make it their base for trips to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. Rockport is also home to many "winter Texans," northerners escaping the big chill.
John soon sold his business building natural gas facilities, and began spending time in Rockport. Malynda kept her retail consulting job for Xerox in College Station. To be able to stay in Rockport most of the time, she decided to install a home office and hired a cabinet maker to put it in.
The cabinet maker mentioned that he also builds vacation homes to rent, and a light bulb went off. "I can do that too," Williams said to herself.
Williams found a two-bedroom on the water for $250,000. It sleeps 12, has its own dock and provides easy access to great fishing waters. "There was very little work to do on it and the deal included the furnishings," Williams said. (Ask the Expert: 'Should I buy a vacation home?')
The next purchase was a five-bay storage property she bought for $119,000 in April 2010. She and John use it for their own stuff, but it came with a 750 square foot apartment, which she rents for $600 a month. (Latest home price forecasts in your area.)
The latest deal came this past winter and seemed, at first, like a steal. Williams paid just $140,000 for a six-bedroom, five-bath, "lodge-like" house a few blocks off the shore, but a problem cropped up.
"The home is 2,180 square feet," she said, "and 460 of that, right in the middle, was a mobile home. Its axles were rusting."
A previous owner, maybe two, must have expanded the living space of the mobile home by building wings all around it. Fixing the axles involves tearing out the core and rebuilding it. That will improve the house but cost upwards of $25,000.
Williams had been getting calls from renters since she first put the rental online in late March, at $1,800 a week and up. Now, she can't book until June when the repair is finished, so there's lost income.
She rents out the homes for short-stays -- weekends, weeks or months. That's more work, because she has to manage the bookings and supervise maintenance and cleaning crews. But it's also more profitable, as long as tourists keep coming.
She set the weekly rates at $900 to $1,500 for the two-bedroom, and the house has been booked about 70% of the time, bringing in $40,000 or so a year. Williams said that's enough to cover all expenses and turn a tidy profit.
That setback has not discouraged Williams. As early as later this year, she plans on adding to her five properties, which includes the old College Station residence, now rented out. She figures she can handle as many as 10.
She paid cash for her three of her acquisitions but she got the cash for the most recent by borrowing against the couple's investment portfolio of stocks and bonds.
That means lower closing costs, and the interest rate on the loan against her portfolio is less than that of a mortgage.
She has also started to manage vacation home rentals for other owners, which only adds lightly to her work, since she's already doing that for her own properties.
This new career will be a perfect retirement fit, she thinks, providing extra income and -- just as important -- fun.
"I can't be idle," she said, "and I don't want to be tied to a desk." 
By Les Christie, staff writer

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Did the Winter Destroy Your Lawn?

Spring has rolled around again, and it’s great to get outside when it’s nice out. However, when you step out onto your front porch to look over your lawn, you are not too pleased. The winter months have won, your lawn lost – as evidenced by the overriding brownish color. Or perhaps there are just a few spots on your lawn that need help. Either way, if you want your brown lawn to glow green once again, here are a few steps to pamper your lawn with a little effort. Reviving your lawn does not have to be an intense process or an incredibly time consuming job, but you will need a few bucks and a few hours, perhaps a Saturday afternoon. And DO NOT wait until summer. Grass seed that gets established before the summer heat hits will be less likely to dry out. The following four steps will bring life and health back into your lawn. 


Your first step is to look closely at your lawn. Do you have a few brown spots that need attention or does your whole lawn need help. If you simply have a few brown spots, try to identify why those spots are brown. Maybe you have a water drainage problem. Or perhaps you have skunks or groundhogs digging around for grub, which means that you need to take care of the grub problem first. Or perhaps you have ruts in your lawn. The depression needs to be filled in an inch higher than ground level to allow for settling. 


Your next step is to look closely to see if the lawn is compacted with more than a half inch of thatch. What is thatch? Thatch is simply dead grass and leaves pressed down among the roots. Thatch blocks water and nutrients from reaching grass roots, weakening the whole plant. Thatching can also trap moisture near the blades of your grass, which can lead to lawn disease. By regularly dethatching the grass buds are forced to grow near the base of the grass stem, freeing up the new grass to grow in healthy and thick. If the thatching is less than half an inch, simply rake it out. If you have heavy thatching, you may need to rent a dethatcher or a power rake. 


Your lawn may need aerated if your soil is too compacted from heavy use. Buy or rent a coring device that will cut three to four inch deep holes in the soil, leaving the cores on the lawn to decompose naturally. The holes created by the aerator provide the grass roots with the ability to receive fertilizer, water, and oxygen. 


Before you jump into reseeding, you must get rid of current weeds. You can either dig them out with a pronged tool, or spot spray them with a broadleaf herbicide. Then give the area a good soaking. To prepare the soil, drag a rake over the bare spots. Then, take a good look at your lawn and determine which kind of grass seed you will need. If you have blue grass, an overseed of any kind of blue grass will do just fine. But do not use the old seed in the garage, it may be dead already. Do not put all your hard work down the drain by using dead seed to try to replant. After you get the seed, sow the seed at twice the rate that is recommended for a new lawn and simply use your hand to lay the seed. Then lay a very thin layer of light organic topsoil so that the seed won’t blow away, approximately an eighth of an inch. Make sure that the topsoil is not laid more than a forth inch thick. 


Your final step is to fertilize. Use a spreader to distribute slow-release granule over the entire lawn. Keep the newly seeded area moist until seeds germinate, at which point you can back off of watering. 
Now you are equipped to transform you’re struggling lawn to a healthy, thriving lawn. Have fun reviving your land.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Governor Martin O’Malley Announces Emergency Mortgage Assistance for Unemployed Homeowners

Announces $40 million in federal assistance to continue fighting foreclosures in Maryland
ANNAPOLIS, MD - April 4, 2011 - (RealEstateRama) — Governor Martin O’Malley today announced a $40 million program to assist homeowners in addressing back mortgage payments. The funding comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development with the goal of helping homeowners who are facing foreclosure due to job loss or a decrease in wages, including those who lost income due to illness.
“Even as we move beyond the fallout of the subprime mortgage and predatory lending crisis, there are still too many families in our State struggling to make ends meet,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “Thanks to our federal partners, this program will strengthen an important safety net for unemployed homeowners and protect the investment they made in the American dream.”
“The Emergency Homeowner Loan Program will provide limited and targeted assistance to help working families get back on their feet and keep their home while they look for work,” said Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan. “We are pleased to get the program off the ground in Maryland, which is already working to help keep families in their homes during difficult economic times.”
The new program provides assistance in the payment of up to 12 months of overdue debt, including delinquent taxes and insurance, and up to 24 months going forward, with a maximum combined total of $50,000.
“This program is welcome news for the countless people in Maryland who are going through these difficult times,” said Congressman Elijah Cummings. “I helped create the bridge loan program to help everyday, hard-working Americans; the same folks who we all see everyday in our neighborhoods. Now, many of them will be able to get the help they have so desperately asked for, straight from the government.”
“Too many families are still struggling to find employment and hold onto their homes,” said Congressman John Sarbanes. “This program will allow Maryland families to avoid foreclosure until they can get back on their feet.”
“This means that homeowners who lost their jobs through no fault of their own will may get the breathing room they need in order to find new employment and get back on track financially,” said Raymond S. Skinner, Secretary of the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.
Eligible homeowners include those who:
  • Are experiencing a loss of employment income because of the economy or a medical condition.  Homeowner(s) must have a current income that is at least 15% less than it was prior to the loss of employment.
  • Are 3-12 months delinquent on their mortgage payments and pending foreclosure. It must be the first mortgage on the principal residence of the homeowner.
  • Have a total household income equal to, or less than, 120% of the Area Median Income (AMI), including wages, unemployment benefits, and other income.  (See www.mdhope.org for AMI chart.)
  • Have a reasonable likelihood (based on industry underwriting standards) of being able to resume mortgage payments within 2 years, when full employment has been regained.
Prospective applicants must meet certain prequalification requirements. Homeowners will be able to access assistance in this process through specially-trained housing counseling agencies approved by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development and at various foreclosure prevention events.
Maryland will begin to take applications immediately. Homeowners can get more details on Maryland’s Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program by visiting the HOPE website at www.mdhope.org or by calling the HOPE hotline (877) 462-7555 to find a housing counselor in their area for free counseling and assistance.
Since 2007, the O’Malley-Brown Administration has aggressively worked to fight the foreclosure crisis. Maryland has passed what the Washington Post called some of the most “sweeping” legislation in the country, giving distressed homeowners more time to work out alternatives to foreclosure. The State has also taken the lead in enacting tough new laws against predatory lending practices. The Administration has reached agreements with multiple mortgage servicing companies to create a streamlined and transparent loss mitigation process; and through Judge Bell, over 1,000 pro bono attorneys have been recruited to assist vulnerable families. In 2010, DLLR secured $2.5 million in refunds from financial institutions for consumers. In February, Maryland foreclosures reached their lowest levels since April 2007. February foreclosures were down more than 15 percent from January and more than 77 percent compared to the same period last year, according to RealtyTrac. Maryland recorded the second largest rate of decline in the country. The MD HOPE Housing Counseling network has aided more than 55,000 homeowners at risk of foreclosure since the crisis arose.
April 4, 2011

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urband Development just recently announced a great program to help homeowners pay for energy improvements


The U.S. Department of Housing and Urband Development just recently announced a great program to help homeowners pay for energy improvements in their homes.  If you have been considering the best way to make improvements to lower your energy consumption costs you may want to take a look at this program and see if you can participate in it as well.  Please share this with your friends or family who might want to know about this program as well.  Here is the article directly from the HUD.gov website.
FHA PowerSaver Program to offer low-cost financing to credit-worthy borrowers

WASHINGTON – Eighteen national, regional and local lenders will participate in a new two-year pilot program that will offer qualified borrowers living in certain parts of the country low-cost loans to make energy-saving improvements to their homes. Backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), these new PowerSaver loans will offer homeowners up to $25,000 to make energy-efficient improvements of their choice, including the installation of insulation, duct sealing, replacement doors and windows, HVAC systems, water heaters, solar panels, and geothermal systems.

U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan and U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the participating lenders (see attached list) during a tour of a family-run company that offers home energy audits and upgrades in Long Island, New York.

“We believe the market is right for a low-cost financing option for families who want energy-saving technologies in their home,” said Secretary Donovan. “PowerSaver hits on all cylinders by helping credit-worthy homeowners finance these upgrades, cut their energy bills and boost the local job market in the process. While FHA and these lenders are jumpstarting this pilot, we hope its success will lead to a growing private sector interest in making these types of loans.”

Secretary Chu said, “Today, we are breaking down barriers and making energy efficiency more accessible and more affordable. It’s the right thing to do for our environment, for our economy and for the pocketbooks of American families.”
The remodeling industry cites surveys that point to a growing demand among homeowners interested in making their homes energy efficient. Yet options are still limited for financing home energy improvements, especially for the many homeowners who are unable to take out a home equity loan or access an affordable consumer loan. Initially, the PowerSaver pilot program is estimated to assist approximately 30,000 homeowners to finance energy-efficient upgrades though higher market demand may increase this impact. According to HUD projections, more than 3,000 jobs will be created through this pilot program and the impact may be larger if market demand for the loan program increases over time.

Participating lenders are largely selected based on their commitment to work in partnership with established home energy retrofit programs provided by states, cities, utilities and home performance contractors. These markets include, but are not limited to areas of the country participating in the Energy Department’s Better Building Program.

PowerSaver loans will be backed by the FHA but require these lenders to have significant “skin in the game.” FHA mortgage insurance will cover up to 90 percent of the loan amount in the event of default. Lenders will retain the remaining risk on each loan, incentivizing responsible underwriting and lending standards.

PowerSaver has been carefully designed to meet a need in the marketplace for borrowers who have the ability and motivation to take on modest additional debt to realize the savings over time from home energy improvements. PowerSaver loans are only available to borrowers with good credit, manageable debt and at least some equity in their home (maximum 100% combined loan-to-value).
HUD developed PowerSaver as part of the Recovery Through Retrofit initiative launched in May 2009 by Vice President Biden’s Middle Class Task Force to develop federal actions that would expand green job opportunities in the United States and boost energy savings by improving home energy efficiency. The announcement is part of an interagency effort including 11 departments and agencies and six White House offices.

Read the FHA PowerSaver fact sheet.

FHA PowerSaver Approved Lenders
Admirals Bank
AFC First Financial Corporation
Bank of Colorado
City of Boise, Idaho
Energy Finance Solutions
Enterprise Cascadia
HomeStreet Bank
Neighbor's Financial Corporation
Paramount Equity Mortgage, Inc.
Quicken Loans
SOFCU Community Credit Union
Stonegate Mortgage Corporation
Sun West Mortgage Company, Inc.
The Bank at Broadmoor
University of Virginia Community Credit Union, Inc.
Viewtech Financial Services, Inc.
WinTrust Mortgage
W. J. Bradley Mortgage Capital Corporation

Source:  www.hud.gov