September 14, 2011

Looking to buy or sell a home?

As awesome as numbers can be to help shed light on the housing market, there's nothing like hearing a personal experience from someone who has been there and done that. So I'm interested in hearing from you if you're somewhere in the process of trying to buy or sell a home.

It's easier to find sellers than buyers, partly because there are more homes on the market than people actively looking and partly because sellers advertise and buyers don't. But buyers' perspectives on the market are pretty important, so I'd especially like to hear from you folks. That includes would-be buyers who aren't going beyond a basic monitoring of online listings, because why you're not buying yet is as interesting as why another buyer is taking the plunge.

You can either comment below and include your email address in the email-address line (which only I can see), or you can email me directly at jhopkins(at)

Everyone in the housing market these days has a story to tell. So don't worry if yours doesn't strike you as especially wild and crazy. It's one more window into what's happening out there.

September 6, 2011

'Bang For Your Buck' looking for Annapolis homeowners

"Bang For Your Buck," the HGTV show about renovations, is looking for a few Annapolis homeowners. Like, right now.

The show plans to feature three Annapolis homes with recent renovations to a "waterfront/coastal style great room" and award $10,000 to the one judged the winner -- best value for the money spent. Deadline to apply: Friday (Sept. 9).

The contact is Sami Hartman,

More details in this press release.

Local folks have been on "Bang For Your Buck" before. The owners of a Little Italy rowhouse got to show off their extensive renovation work, and a Patterson Park couple had their kitchen renovation featured.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 5:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Your name in lights (well, newsprint)

March 22, 2011

Calling all real estate experts (and buyers, sellers, etc.)

A bit fewer blog posts overall, plus some written by guest bloggers, seems to be the community consensus for how I should manage my work/life balance problem. I'm hoping that will work well for all concerned, and I really appreciate the time you took to make suggestions (and to reassure me that it's OK if I dial it back a bit in the interest of being less frazzled -- thanks for being so understanding).

My tentative plan is three posts a week rather than five, though that could mean three substantive posts plus two quick hits. Several readers noted that they would enjoy being pointed to interesting stories and blog posts elsewhere, so I'll keep an eye out for things off the beaten path.

Also, I'm going to start contacting local folks with housing expertise to see if they'd like to write a guest post about something you'd like to read. Open invitation: If you can recommend someone or fit the bill yourself, please let me know by emailing jhopkins (at) baltsun (dot) com. A good guest post might be a look at what's selling (and what isn't) in a certain slice of the Baltimore region, an analysis of what works (and what doesn't) if you're renting out your home, a walk-through of possible changes to the ever-mutating mortgage market -- you get the idea.

Besides that, though, I'm interested in guest posts from people who are living this crazy housing market in some way. Buyers slogging through lots of open houses. Sellers trying to figure out what constitutes a sweet-spot asking price. Renters jumping to homeownership, homeowners jumping ship back to renting. Chances are, you've got an interesting tale to tell, be it ever so short. So please feel free to volunteer yourself.

Check out this post for a recent example of someone sharing a personal experience, one that sparked a conversation about what renters and landlords can and should expect from each other.

Here's to many more interesting conversations.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Your name in lights (well, newsprint)

February 22, 2011

Crowdsourcing the housing beat

More than 2.5 million people live in the Baltimore metro area. Think of how many know something interesting about real estate.

I'm following colleague Gus Sentementes' lead and inviting you all to join in on a bit of crowdsourcing.

Do you have some housing-market expertise? Add your name to this sources list. Share your contact information, tell me about your expertise, even suggest a story or three. And please feel free to share the link.

While we're at it: Here's a place for all Maryland businesses, economic experts and the like to do the same.

Most of you reading this, I suspect, don't work in real estate. It's just part of your life in some way. You're buying. Selling. Renting. Trying to refinance. Deciding whether to move. Appealing your property taxes. But that means you have some personal experience. Here's how you can share it:

Continue reading "Crowdsourcing the housing beat" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Your name in lights (well, newsprint)

December 29, 2010

Hey, renters -- share your experience

If you switched rentals or saw your rent change in the last few months, I'd be interested in hearing your story.

Leave a comment (with the email-address line filled in, so we can connect), or just email me directly at jhopkins(at)baltsun(dot)com.

Thanks, all.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 2:47 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Renting, Your name in lights (well, newsprint)

October 3, 2010

How an ugly bathroom can get you a nicer one

If you enjoy pointing out places where your home is less than ideal -- "hey, get a load of this horrible feature" -- then the Sun's advertising staff has a contest for you.

The Ugly Bathroom competition invites homeowners to show off their mold, broken toilets, etc., for the chance to win a redo. One catch: You have to live in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Carroll or Howard. The full rules are here.

Deadline to upload photos: 9 a.m. on Oct. 6. (No one asked me to promote this, by the way. I just figured some of you might be annoyed if I failed to mention an opportunity to get a better bathroom.)

If your bathroom is fine but you enjoy looking at cringe-worthy problems, check out the photo gallery. (I wonder if the "His 'n Hers" outhouse is a joke.)

UPDATE: For the contest-crazy, here's another opportunity -- win a room makeover from the DIY Network's Sweat Equity show, courtesy of ScotchBlue

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 3:57 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Your name in lights (well, newsprint)

August 11, 2010

What kind of home your money will get you

HGTV's "What You Get for the Money" compares metro areas to show you what sort of home $300,000 -- or whatever the amount -- will buy. The thing is, there's a lot of variation just within a metro area. Ours, for instance.

Wouldn't it be interesting to get examples of homes at various price points across the Baltimore region? I think it would make a fun and informative feature here. But I'll need your help if I'm going to make this work.

If you bought a home this year (or late last year, even) in Baltimore City or Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford or Howard counties, I'd like to give Wonk readers a virtual tour of your place. I'm especially looking for homes purchased for around $150,000, $200,000, $250,000, $300,000, $400,000 and $500,000. (By "around," I mean "in the very general vicinity," not "within $1,000 or less.")

You don't need a showcase home. Average is perfectly fine.

Want to participate? Email me at jamie.smith.hopkins(at) -- with @ substituted for (at), of course.

Got suggestions? Comment away. 

February 22, 2010

Have you bought or sold a home recently?

Calling all chatty folks: If you've bought or sold a home somewhere in the Baltimore metro area within the last six months, I'd be interested in hearing about your experience.

Email me at jamie.smith.hopkins(at)

Thanks, folks.

February 13, 2010

Relive snowstorm #2 in 2 minutes

Will Cocks of Greenmount West made this time-lapse video from nearly 1,800 photos taken between 2 p.m. Tuesday and 8 p.m. the next evening -- or as Will puts it, "Snomageddon 2.0."

Thanks for sharing, Will! And now let's hope the rest of the winter is positively springlike.

February 11, 2010

More snow, for Pete's sake: Your photos



Where does the snow end and the harbor begin? That's the question posed by colleague Justin Fenton, who snapped this moody photo of Snowpocalypse II.

Below, a panoramic pic taken by Aaron Szopinski, showing the alley in Hampden he dug out earlier in the week so his wife could get her car out. "Can't say I'm planning on doing it again," he wrote me as the snow was falling yesterday.




Below, preparing for Round Two: Jackie Regales of North Baltimore shoveled her roof to get the weight off before Mother Nature dumped more on.




And here -- behind the cut -- is a photo Will Cocks took in his Greenmount West neighborhood that's so neat I had to share, even though it's from Saturday and not yesterday:

Continue reading "More snow, for Pete's sake: Your photos" »

February 9, 2010

Send your snow photos


Photo by me


What's the damage in your neighborhood? Show us photographically by sending in a photo or three of Snowpocalypse, Round Two.

Because we might as well be miserably snowbound together, right?

Email photos to jamie.smith.hopkins(at) Tell me where and when you took the photo and how you'd like to be credited.

Thanks, all.

February 8, 2010

At least it's pretty



Here's a photo taken by Brad Lhotsky, showing Linwood Avenue through Patterson Park.

I'm offering it up as the silver lining to all this darn snow: It does have its beautiful moments.

February 7, 2010

Snowpocalypse: More of your photos

Baltimore real estate agent Jamie Mason, who took the photo below, offers up a caption that made me laugh:

"New feature to market in city home sales: the rooftop luge."



Here's a harbor view she snapped:




Frequent commenter BigDragon sent in photos of the Snowpocalypse in his Glen Burnie neighborhood, including this one that answers the question, "So where exactly can you put the shoveled snow?"

Continue reading "Snowpocalypse: More of your photos" »

February 6, 2010

Snowpocolypse, Day 2: More of your pics

The photos keep coming in -- thanks, guys!

Rob Walshe shared this snapshot of his Waltherson neighborhood, in Northeast Baltimore:




And here's another photo from Rob, to show how high the snow got today:




Jennifer Feinstein took this photo of son Zachary Feinstein, 6, outside their Westminster home:




And here's a street view from Westminster, also taken by Jennifer:


Continue reading "Snowpocolypse, Day 2: More of your pics" »

Snowpocolypse, Day 2: Your pics


Photo by Joe Heisler III


Thanks to all who have sent in photos to show just how much snow you've gotten. Keep 'em coming.

Above, Joe Heisler III gives us a visual report of the situation in Glen Rock, Penn. Wife Kathy said just before noon that they had 27 inches there and the stuff was still coming down.

Here's what greeted Laura in Baltimore when she opened her door this morning:





And here's James Harry's photo of the Baltimore neighborhood of Idlewood (below):


Continue reading "Snowpocolypse, Day 2: Your pics" »

The snow in your neck of the woods



Above: The view from Charles Street on Friday evening, contributed by MdoubleA.

Below: Two residential photos from Laura in Baltimore, also snapped Friday.

Continue reading "The snow in your neck of the woods" »

February 5, 2010

Share your snow photos


Photo by Ed Hopkins


What's the landscape looking like near you? Send a photo (or photos) my way this weekend, and I'll post them. Because hey, there is a real estate connection -- snow falls on all homes, huge and modest alike.

Email any photographs to jamie.smith.hopkins(at)

Stay warm, Wonks!

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 8:38 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Weather, Your name in lights (well, newsprint)

November 17, 2009

Be a news source on all subjects Black Friday

Once a month, The Baltimore Sun invites everyone -- yes, you too -- to share experiences that will help us better understand how folks are dealing with day-to-day economic realities. The newest topic: Black Friday, that frenzy of post-Thanksgiving shopping.

Will you partake? Have your plans changed from previous years thanks to the downturn?

You can find the Black Friday questions here. Or go to, our main page for our "be a news source" effort.

Why are we doing this? Because economic news coverage is better and more relevant when it's not just the pundits talking.

Grateful thanks to all who participate and -- better yet -- spread the word.

November 13, 2009

Searching for a home? Tell your story

We're looking for a buyer to write dispatches from the home-buying front, starting with the search and ending with move in, with lots of updates in between. Take us with you on your treks to open houses, share your observations about conditions and prices, show us contract negotiation, tell us about all the paperwork -- you get the idea.

You'll be helping demystify the process for other would-be buyers. Better yet, you get to weigh in on what works and what drives you up a wall.

We're specifically looking for a first-time home buyer or someone who wants a foreclosure or short sale to live in. (Or you could fit into both categories.)

If this is you, and you're fairly early in the process, drop me a line at jamie.smith.hopkins(at)

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 12:10 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Dispatches, Your name in lights (well, newsprint)

August 26, 2009

Making Home Affordable program: Are you in?

The federal Making Home Affordable program is supposed to help homeowners refinance if they're under water on their mortgages and get eligible borrowers a loan modification to prevent foreclosure. The Obama administration says the initiative "has made rapid progress in a few short months," while news reports -- noting continued increases in foreclosures -- suggest not so much.

There's nothing like the voice of experience: Have you applied? What happened?

Eileen Ambrose, the Sun's fabulous personal finance columnist, would like to hear from you for a column she's working on. You can reach her at eileen(dot)ambrose(at)

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 9:52 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Your name in lights (well, newsprint)

August 24, 2009

Buying a small place?

My colleague Hanah Cho is looking to interview people who are buying or have recently bought a small home.

If you're in this group, she'd be delighted if you contact her at hanah(dot)cho(at)

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 2:50 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Your name in lights (well, newsprint)
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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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