October 12, 2011

Three housing events you might want to know about

If you're trying to cut your utility bills, find a less expensive place in live in pricey Howard County or get a loan modification from Wells Fargo, you might want to check out these events:

Energy conservation. The Fuel Fund of Maryland is partnering up with Direct Energy and The Loading Dock to hold a weatherization fair on Saturday, Oct. 29 from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

They promise a hands-on look at subjects ranging from fixing leaks to installing weather stripping and caulking. Oh -- and an intro to "vampire energy," just in time for Halloween.

Where: The Loading Dock, 2 N. Kresson St. in Baltimore.

Affordable housing. Howard County's Moderate Income Housing Unit program is taking applications through Oct. 31 for people hoping to snag a less-pricey home for sale or rent there. Eligible purchasers must have a household income no more than 80 percent of the county's median income, while eligible renters have to be at 60 percent or below. (It ranges depending on family size -- more details here.)

Continue reading "Three housing events you might want to know about" »

May 6, 2011

Housing events and foreclosure help

Two events for would-be homebuyers and one announcement for struggling homeowners:

o Live Baltimore is holding its Buying into Baltimore fair for the western half of the city on Saturday, May 14, which includes the usual opportunity to qualify for $4,000 in city-funded money to put toward closing costs or a downpayment.

o Comprehensive Housing Assistance Inc. is putting on its own open house tour of Northwestern city neighborhoods on Monday, May 16, also with $4,000 settlement-help opportunities.

o Bank of America announced Thursday that it would open a Baltimore-area center that its borrowers can visit if they're having trouble with mortgage payments, one of 28 "customer assistance" locations it plans to open in the next three months. The closest one now is in Arlington, Va. The potential appeal of showing up in person? A common complaint by borrowers seeking loan modifications from their servicers is that the documentation they fax or mail is repeatedly lost.

Know of an event or happening? Please share in the comments.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Foreclosure help, Housing events

April 15, 2011

Asking-price reductions on homes, by ZIP code

Market intel for home buyers and sellers alike: See how quickly homeowners in various ZIP codes reduce their asking prices and by how much.

The new data, from real estate search site Trulia, maps price reductions across the country -- as well as the likelihood of a second drop in asking prices.

Two examples:

In 21244, Windsor Mill in Baltimore County, the first reduction is 10 percent and comes in an average of 49 days. Probability of a second reduction: 44 percent. In the much pricier Monkton, 21111, the average reduction is 9 percent and takes a lot longer in coming -- 152 days. Sellers are also less likely to drop their list price again.

While we're on the subject of interesting links, here are two more -- both on property taxes: 

Continue reading "Asking-price reductions on homes, by ZIP code" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Housing events, Housing stats

August 24, 2010

'Buying Into Baltimore' next month

Live Baltimore's next "Buying Into Baltimore" fair -- this one focusing on East Baltimore -- is planned for Sept. 11.

The twice-yearly event has homeownership-education workshops, exhibitors, neighborhood tours and an opportunity to qualify for $4,000 in down-payment or closing-cost help.

The event starts at 9 a.m. at Mervo -- Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical Senior High School -- at 3500 Hillen Road. Tours begin at 11 a.m.

You can register here.

Know of other free housing-related events in the area? Leave the details in a comment.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Housing events

June 3, 2010

Home-tour event in Columbia

Columbia's villages are putting on a home tour this Sunday -- their first -- that will crisscross through the earliest parts of the planned community.

The places to see: a waterfront townhouse in Wilde Lake, a "green" home in Oakland Mills, a contemporary-style house in Harper's Choice and two homes in Long Reach. The event, a fundraiser for the One Month's Rent Initiative, costs $20 a person and is co-sponsored by the Columbia Archives.

It's slated to run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (The tours are self-guided and the homes are not for sale, in case you're wondering.)

Besides the tour, there will be refreshments and a display at the Other Barn, 5851 Robert Oliver Place in Columbia. Tickets are for sale at all Columbia's village centers through Saturday and at Oakland Mills and Long Reach village centers on Sunday.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:30 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Housing events

April 11, 2010

'Financial fitness' event for homeowners, renters

Some housing events are aimed at renters (usually of the "how to buy" variety), some at homeowners (invariably foreclosure prevention). Neighborhood Housing Services of Baltimore is putting on a Financial Fitness Day for both.

The event next weekend will have resources for "overcoming the obstacles that come along with trying to become a homeowner, maintenance after purchase, foreclosure, and overall financial fitness," organizers say. Participants can get their credit report pulled, talk to housing counselors and attend classes geared to their stage in the housing continuum.

Financial Fitness Day is scheduled for Saturday at Pleasant Hope Baptist Church, 430 E. Belvedere Ave. For more details, and to register, contact Neighborhood Housing Services.

Know of other housing events worthy of note? Add them in the comments.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Housing events

March 13, 2010

Housing events for every preference

If you want to buy, rent, try to hold onto or fix up a home, you've got events to choose from in the next few weeks:

Thursday, March 18: "Foreclosure solutions" session from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. in Randallstown, organized by the Baltimore County Office of Community Conservation. Government agencies, housing counselors and others will cover topics ranging from federal loan-modification options to avoiding scams. More details here.

Saturday, March 20: Foreclosure prevention event from 9 a.m. to noon in Columbia, organized by the Howard County Housing Department. Housing counselors and several large lenders will be on hand to meet with people one-on-one. More details, including paperwork to bring, on this site. 

Wednesday, March 24: Smart Homebuying Night from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. in Baltimore, organized by Live Baltimore. Meet with industry exhibitors, including real estate agents and lenders. That meet-and-greet is followed by a pre-purchase housing counseling class, the sort you need to take for certain homebuyer aid grants, but the class is full -- you'll need to get on the waiting list. More details here.

Saturday, March 27: How-to session at 10 a.m. in Baltimore on applying (and qualifying) for the Maryland Heritage Preservation Tax Credit Program, put on by the Charles Village Community Benefits District and Baltimore Heritage. Learn how to save on the cost of rehabbing a home in an historic neighborhood. More details here. (Or go here to see which city neighborhoods qualify.) 

Saturday, April 10: Howard County Housing Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Columbia, organized by the Howard County Housing Department. Bus tour of new housing developments, sessions on topics ranging from buying to energy conservation, and exhibitors -- from landlords to lenders. More details here.

Saturday, April 10: City Living Rental Tour from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Baltimore, organized by Live Baltimore. Bus tours of apartment complexes, renting-tips session and an in-person roommate match event. More details here.

Know of other events you think Wonk readers might want to attend? Please share in a comment.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Housing events

September 1, 2009

Buying Into Baltimore

Live Baltimore's big home-buying fair and tour, Buying Into Baltimore, offers $3,000 as a first-come, first-served incentive to buy a city home. More than 650 have been bought with those sweeteners since the first event in 1998, and they're everywhere -- from Woodberry to Middle East, from Walbrook to Fells Point.

Live Baltimore, a nonprofit that wants folks to take a hint from its name and live in Baltimore, compiled this statistic as it prepares its latest Buying Into Baltimore event, scheduled Sept. 12. (Pre-registration information here.)

The $3,000 -- which can be used toward closing costs or down payment -- is a city loan that turns into a grant after five years. Fifty are up for grabs. Detailed details are here, but in general, buyers qualify by getting homeownership counseling, participating in the event's home tours and buying a place within 90 days afterward. (You don't have to choose one of the 16 homes on the tour, but you do have to buy in the eastern half of Baltimore. The spring fair focuses on the west and the fall fair on the east.)

"Our Buying Into Baltimore program is mostly designed for first-time home buyers," said Anna Custer, executive director of Live Baltimore. "All of those homes we feature ... are under $250."

Many of the participants aren't planning big moves. Nearly three-quarters of the 500 people who showed up for the spring Buying Into Baltimore event were already Baltimore residents.

Some of the out-of-towners were from the Baltimore 'burbs, some from Washington and some from New Jersey. (New Jersey is the home of Fort Monmouth, due to send thousands of jobs to Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County as part of base realignment and closure.)

Live Baltimore bused in BRAC relocatees for the spring event. This time, it's got an overnight trip planned with a BRAC-only tour the following day.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (11)
Categories: First-time home buyers, Housing events

June 23, 2009

Opinions about title insurance? Your time has come

The Maryland Insurance Administration is holding a hearing Thursday on title insurance -- part of the home buying process that you might barely notice unless something goes wrong. For instance, if your escrow money disappears.

A commission that intends to recommend changes to state law invites people to share "issues or concerns relating to title insurance, title agents, the manner in which real estate settlement practices are conducted, the handling of real estate escrow accounts, and any difficulties that a person may have experienced with the title insurance industry."

The hearing is scheduled for 5 p.m. at the Miller Senate Office Building, 11 Bladen St. in Annapolis -- look for it in the Senate Finance Committee Room, 3 East. The insurance administration says you can find free parking at the Calvert Street Garage, 19 Saint Johns St.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:35 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Housing events
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About Jamie Smith Hopkins
Jamie Smith Hopkins, a Baltimore Sun reporter since 1999, writes about the regional economy. Her reporting on the housing market has won national and local awards. Hopkins is a Columbia native and has lived in Maryland all her life, save for 10 months spent covering schools in Ames, Iowa.
She trained to become a wonk by spending large chunks of time as a geek and an insufferable know-it-all.
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