A new year gift to you…incredible interest rates

In case you haven’t heard, interest rates are absolutely incredible right now.  The lowest they’ve been in 20 months, in fact.

If you are thinking about refinancing your current mortgage, I would strongly urge you to get in contact with a lender very soon to find out what amazingly low number your mortgage payment could be.  As of yesterday, the 30 year fixed rate averaged 3.73%.  AMAZING.

If you are thinking about purchasing a home, these low rates could increase your purchase power by a considerable amount.  Additionally, your monthly payment could be hundreds of dollars lower than it would have been at the rates that were available just a few months ago.

Take a look at the article below that was published yesterday on Realtor.com and let me know if you want to take advantage of this great opportunity!


new year rates house


Jennifer Novak



“Turning Your Dreams into an Address!”



The Importance of Being Choosy

question markYou’ve made the biggest investment of your life by buying a home.  You’ve lived there, made memories there and likely fallen in love with every square inch of it.  You’ve made it a reflection of your families’ life and personalities, and you’ve made it beautiful.  For one reason or another, you might decide to move and you’ll need to sell your lovingly cared for home to someone else, someone who you hope will love it just as much as you do.  How do you find the right person to help you do this?

In a sea of  Realtors, it’s nearly impossible to know who the “best” are.  It’s likely that you have a friend of a friend who recommends a  Realtor, or your brother’s girlfriends’ cousin is a Realtor who would like to help you.  But how do you know that they know what they’re doing?  How do you know that they will have your best interests at heart?

Here’s a few things to look for in a Realtor, if you are ever thinking of selling a home.

1.  Personality.  This one is obvious but worth mentioning, nonetheless.  You will be forming a personal relationship with your Realtor that will last for at least a few months, and quite longer if they keep in touch with you after the sale, like they should.  They say a buyer knows whether or not they like a home within the first 30 seconds of walking in the front door.  I say, you’ll be able to tell whether a particular Realtor is a good fit for you and your needs within the first 5 minutes of talking with them.  Are you looking for an aggressive, master negotiator who doesn’t take no for an answer?  If so, then you should look for signs of those qualities at your first meeting. If the Realtor is agreeing to everything you suggest, or seems uncertain in speaking and presenting information to you, then they might not be the best suited person to portray your needs/ wants during a negotiation.

2.  Experience in your local area.  If you are selling a home in Davidsonville, and have been given a recommendation for an agent who’s primary focus area is in North Baltimore, it might not be a good match.  Make sure you choose an agent who has a history of selling homes in your local area.  That person should be aware of the local market trends, the neighborhoods and community amenities, and they might even have buyers who they are currently working with that they would like to show your home to.  A local expert will be able to compare your home to the other homes that they have already seen in person in your community, and give a well educated recommendation on price based on those comparisons.   A local expert will know other agents in the area who they will be able to specifically market your home to.  More than once, I’ve sold homes before they ever went on the market just by emailing agents in my area and letting them know I had a new, desirable listing.  You definitely want to choose an agent with a strong local presence.

3.  Marketing, Marketing, Marketing.  Gone are the days of Realtors simply placing a home for sale in the MLS and watching the clock tick down until it sells a few days later.  It’s just not that easy anymore.  At the first meeting, your Realtor should present a comprehensive marketing plan to you.  This plan should include all of the steps that the Realtor will take in marketing your home in order to attract the most buyers.  A good marketing plan is composed of many things, but the following are some things that should definitely be a part of it.

– A list of websites that your property will be placed on.

– Samples of fliers or brochures that the agent has used on previous listings.  Professional quality full color brochures are the best.

-Samples of print ad’s that the agent has used on previous listings.  These could include newspaper ad’s or other local real estate publication ad’s.

– Details on mailings that the agent will send to your neighborhood announcing your home is for sale.  These are traditionally called “Just Listed” cards, and they should be mailed out to the areas surrounding your home within the first few days that it’s on the market.

– Professionally taken photos of your home.  I cannot stress this enough.  Do not let your agent take photos using their own camera.  With 90% of buyers searching online for homes, the photos are the single most important feature that determines whether or not they will schedule an appointment to see it.   I am surprised weekly, if not daily, when I see low quality home photos on a listing online.  The agent should absolutely hire a photographer to take your photos.  I’s amazing what the magic of a wide-angle lens can do. I will refer to my previous post on this issue so you can see why it is so important!  Please read How Not to get Photo-Bombed in Real Estate, and another wonderful study that shows that homes with professional photos tend to sell for more money, and faster than homes that have amateur quality photos, here.  Whatever you do, do not let your listing photos end up here.

– Open Houses.  Almost as often as I see bad photos, I meet agents who say they don’t do open houses.  I cannot understand why not.  Most agents say that they don’t do them because they think it is a waste of time and they say buyers do not come to the open houses.  I can only say that they must not be doing them in my area.  If you live in the Anne Arundel County area and you want to do an open house, unless there is a Redskins or Ravens game on that day, people will come.  Open houses are a way to bring buyers into your home who may not necessarily want to be committed to using a Realtor just yet.  They may be in the early stages of looking…great!  Even if they do not write an offer on your house, they will leave feedback about what they thought of your home.  Your Realtor should ask everyone that visits to sign in and leave feedback for you to see when the open house is over.  The feedback can be especially valuable to you as a seller.  If you are not receiving a lot of showings, the open house feedback may be the only way you’ll know what buyers are thinking of your home.   Now, in order to get buyers to come to the open house your agent will have to advertise it promptly and properly.  The open house should be advertised online on all of the major home searching websites; Zillow, Realtor.com, Trulia, Homes.com and of course, the agent’s own personal website.  The open house can be advertised up to a week in advance, in order to create a buzz among the neighborhood.  I personally have sent open house invitations to all of the residents  in the community where the listing is located.  I have found many times that your neighbors can be your best asset when selling.  They often have friends that would like to live in the community, and they will tell their friends about your home.   Signs are also very important.  The more open house signs that are displayed around the area, the better.  If the only people who are seeing your open house signs are the ones who are entering and leaving your community, you probably won’t have the best turn-out.  Signs should be everywhere.  Also, ask your realtor to do more than one open house, especially if you aren’t receiving a lot of showings.


There are many qualities to look for in a Realtor, and these are just a few to get you thinking.  If you are considering selling, think about making a list of the things that are the most important to you and try to look for a Realtor who matches those qualities.   If you ever have any real estate related questions, I’m happy to answer them for you!


Jennifer Novak

“Turning Your Dreams into an Address!”









Should you use a realtor when building a new home?

builder photo

This has come up several times in my career.  I have had people ask me “Do I really need an agent to represent me if I’m working directly with a builder?”

The answer is yes.  Always. However, there are misunderstandings about what an agents’ role is during a build, and a  myths about the agents commission that I hear quite often from buyers.  Here are just a couple of them that I hear the most often:

Myth #1.  An agent won’t really do much to help a buyer during a build.  Buyers should just work with the builder on their own. 

First, let me say that there are definitely a few agents for whom myth #1 is true, but that is certainly not the case for the vast majority of hard working, great agents out there. Working with a builder can be a little intimidating, especially if you have not done it before.  The builder typically has their own contract (which protects THEM. Not the buyer.)  The builders contract usually consists of more than 100 pages of legal jargon and addenda,   The buyer’s agent’s job is to read, understand, and communicate all of the points of the contract to their client and negotiate with the builder so that their client gets the best terms possible. A good realtor will be able to point out verbiage in the contract that could conflict with a buyer’s needs or wants during the home building process and address those concerns with the builder.  Additionally, many builders are willing to reduce their sales prices or offer buyer incentives like free options or upgrades, but they won’t tell that to a buyer.  In fact, what they will tell buyers is that they do not negotiate costs.  Ever.  Again, this is where having a great agent working on your side can greatly benefit you.  Most people find the negotiation process to be painful and uncomfortable.  The last thing they want to do is start a conversation asking for a reduced price or worse – a freebie.  This is where your agent comes in.  I have personally negotiated for reduced sales prices, increased builder closing contributions, free upgrades, free options, extended contingency time frames and many other discounts for my clients.  We agents like negotiating.  It’s what we do.  And we especially like making our clients happy.

Myth # 2. If a buyer does not use their own agent,  the builder will then “gift” (in the form of upgrades/ extras)  them the money that would have been used to pay an agents’ commission.

This myth is by far the most believed, I think.  I have actually encountered people who, after showing them many homes, decided that they wanted to buy a brand new home but no longer wanted representation.  They believed that their builder would discount the sales price of the new home by the amount that they would traditionally have to pay an agent.  After experiencing this, I decided to ask a few builder representatives that I know if this was true.  Would a builder give the buyer an unpaid commission in the form of either a price reduction or upgrade?   Absolutely not, was the answer from each person I talked to.  Why?  Well, builders LOVE realtors!  We are constantly bringing ready, willing and able buyers to their fancy new homes and selling them!  We have the buyers, they have the houses.  It’s a win-win for both of us.  That’s why almost all builders automatically include agent’s commission into the base price of every home they offer for sale.  Every home.  Not some of them, all of them.  They want to work with realtors.  It doesn’t do them any good not to.  They have a “slush fund” of sorts that is already budgeted out to pay commission on every single house they sell.  If you choose not to use an agent then that’s just another few thousand dollars to the good for them.

Bottom line?  Agents work for their client, not anyone else.  Our primary focus is to do what is best for our clients, all of the time.  Make sure you have a  good agent with great negotiating skills representing you if you decide to build a new home.  You’ll be happy you did!

If you have any real estate questions, I’m always happy to answer them.  Give me a call or shoot me an email!

Jennifer Novak

Realty Executives-Annapolis




3 Tips on how not to get photo “bombed” in Real Estate


It’s one of the things I most often hear from buyers when I show them homes: “Wow, this house looks totally different from the photos!” Sometimes in a good way. Often times, not. With over 90% of home buyers starting their home search online, sellers will want to ensure their homes’ online presence is enticing to prospective buyers. One of the most effective and least utilized ways to do this is to start with the homes’ photos.

The following 3 tips will help you to ensure your homes’ online listing is not getting photo “bombed”.

1. Insist that your Realtor hires a professional photographer to take the photos of your home. This is a must. The days of making-do with amateur quality photos in real estate are gone. It surprises me how many agents still insist on using their own pocket cameras to take photos of their listings. Agents: Please Stop! Many buyers will actually skip over online listings if they see a photo they don’t like. If your agent doesn’t use high quality professional photos that showcase your homes best features, you may be missing out on potential buyers! Bad photos = a bad online presence. 90% of buyers searching online + a bad online presence = no good for anybody. The photos on your virtual tour should be clear, crisp and make your house look expansive, light-filled and amazing! A professional photographer who specializes in real estate photography will be able to do just that. Leave the photography to the experts!

2. Photo order is important. Buyers want to feel like they are getting a tour of your property through the photos. The photo order needs to make sense, and follow the flow of the rooms of the house. I once saw a listing online that where the main photo was of the bathroom. Really? I mean, I’m sure the bathroom was very nicely remodeled and sparkling with new fixtures, but to use that as the main photo online for all of the home-buying world to see? No. Don’t do that. Have the photo order start with an amazing exterior photo that shows off your front yard and the exterior of your home, then the foyer, the living room, the kitchen, etc. The buyer will be able to get an idea of the floorplan of your home just by looking at the photos.
3. If you are not getting enough showings, change the photos around. Sometimes just tweeking the photos a bit can re-distribute your listing to buyers who receive automatic email updates from their realtors. So, the buyer that saw it a month ago when the main photo was a close-up shot of the exterior could now see the same listing, but with a new exterior photo and thereby may feel compelled to take a second look.  This is a quick and easy trick to get people interested.

There are many ways to enhance your homes’ online presence, but the photos are quite possibly the most important part of marketing your home to  potential buyers.  Make sure they’re fabulous and you’ll get fabulous results!

If you live in or around Davidsonville and need Real Estate advice, I’m happy to help!  Just ask!

Jennifer Novak


Champion Realty




Anne Arundel County Real Estate Market Update

Are you curious how the Real Estate market is doing in Anne Arundel County? The numbers for Real Estate sales in July have just been published.  It was an amazing month for local real estate, to say the least!  Please take a look at the information below and see what made July one of the best months in real estate in Anne Arundel county this year!

Prices are up!

The average sold price of a home in Anne Arundel County has been on a steady incline all year.  This past July was no different.  The average sold price in July 2013 increased by 3.34% when compared to July 2012.  This is great news for people who may be thinking of selling their home in Anne Arundel County this year.  Prices are up, sellers are happy.  Who doesn’t like a little extra cash in their pocket?

Homes are selling FAST!

The time it takes to sell a home in Anne Arundel County is currently about 76 days, on average.  This is really great news especially considering that in July 2012 the average days on the market was 91, a 16% difference.  Many homeowners are finding that their homes are selling quicker than they had imagined.  While the madness of the fast paced Spring market has died down, there are still many buyers out looking at homes and waiting to snag the next hot listing that comes up.

Great Rates!

One of the main reasons that the market is continuing to prosper here in Anne Arundel County is the offering of low interest rates to buyers.  The current interest rate on a 30 Year fixed FHA mortgage is about 4.25-4.5%.  Now, not too long ago back in the first quarter of this year the rates were even lower than they are now, generally around 3%-3.5%.  Those were INCREDIBLE interest rates, no doubt about it.  But a 4.25%-4.5% 30 YEAR FIXED RATE is INCREDIBLE as well!  Just as those rates in the 3’s paid us a quick visit and then headed out of town, so will the current rates in the 4’s.  Nothing stays the same for too long in this business.  If you are thinking about purchasing a home, this could be the best time to do it, before prices increase and rates increase.

I love delivering good news about real estate! If you know anyone who lives in Anne Arundel County or if you know someone who wants to, please share this news with them. 

As always, if you have any questions about the market where you live, just ask me!  I am always happy to help! 

Jennifer Novak

“Turning Your Dreams into an Address!”

Call Me- 301-370-9789-Direct

Email Me- Novakdreamhomes@gmail.com

www.JenniferNovakHomes.com Property Search



Open House Sunday August 4th in Harbor Hills!

3472 Ranger Rd. Davidsonville, MD.

3472 Ranger Rd. Davidsonville, MD.

Please join me Sunday, August 4th from 1:00-3:00 at this contemporary Harbor Hills home.

3472 Ranger Rd Davidsonville, MD.

Tranquility in a private, peaceful setting. Surrounded by a canopy of trees, this well cared for custom built home sits perched on a hilltop with gorgeous views of the manicured grounds. Multiple decks, custom built sunroom, 2 master suites, kitchen with granite, 2 fireplaces, windows galore, 2 car garage, finished basement, extensive custom stonework and more.


Beautiful Stone Entryway

Beautiful Stone Entryway

Open Kitchen with Granite

Open Kitchen with Granite

Fire pit in the Backyard

Fire pit in the Backyard


For the full listing details and to see the virtual tour of this home, please visit this link:




100% Financing, No Down Payment loans in Anne Arundel and Calvert Counties!

Are you dreaming of purchasing a new home, but you are not quite able to pull together a 3.5%-5% required down payment? The USDA Rural Development Loan may be a great option for you!

Traditionally, FHA loans require a 3.5% down payment, equaling about $10,500 cash down on a $300,000 home. To the average buyer, that can be a hefty amount of cash to have to come up with in order to qualify to purchase a new home. For some, it is simply unattainable. The USDA Rural Development Loan is available to assist buyers with low to moderate income levels achieve home ownership in Maryland by working with local lenders to offer 100% financing to buyers who meet the eligibility requirements for properties in approved rural areas. A buyer who qualifies for this loan will not have to make any down payment at all, and will be able to finance 100% of the purchase price.

The Rural Development loan assists buyers in purchasing home in approved rural areas only. The property must be located in one of the approved rural areas in order for it to qualify. Some of the cities that are approved in Southern Anne Arundel County are Shady Side, Lothian, Harwood, Tracy’s Landing, Deale, and parts of Davidsonville among others. If you are thinking of purchasing a home in Calvert County-good news! The entire county is considered rural and therefore any property in Calvert county will qualify to be purchased using the USDA Rural Development Loan.

Of course, there are eligibility requirements that a buyer must meet in order to qualify. The income requirements vary based on the number of people in a household (children included). For instance, a household of 4 people including 2 adults and 2 children could qualify to purchase a home in the approved rural areas in Southern Anne Arundel County if the income in the household does not exceed $96,150. There are deductions that can be made in income for things like daycare expenses and such, in order for a buyer’s income to qualify. Additionally, the buyer will have to meet certain credit requirements, but unlike typical loans the credit requirements are flexible and some non-traditional credit histories may be acceptable.

The interest rates on the USDA Rural Development Loan are competitive with the average market rates. All of the loans are based on 30 year fixed mortgage rates. Additionally, this loan allows the seller to pay up to 3% closing of the buyers closing costs, essentially meaning the buyer might not have to come up with any cash out of pocket in order to purchase a home.

I know this might sound too good to be true, but believe me, it is true! I am currently working with buyers who are using the USDA Rural Development Loan to purchase a home in Calvert County. They are a sweet family of 5 who met the income eligibility and credit requirements. We found an amazing home for them, wrote the offer and are now waiting for settlement at the end of next month! They do not have to make any down payment at all, and the seller is paying all of the closing costs for them.

If you would like more information on the USDA Rural Development Loan, or if you have any questions about home ownership in Maryland, please feel free to give me a call or send me an email anytime! I am happy to help you!

Jennifer Novak
“Turning Your Dreams into an Address”