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Valerie Mcneal's Blog

By Valerie McNeal, CDPE, CRS, GRI | Agent in Maryland
  • Selling Your Home In This Market Can Certainly Be Challenging

    Posted Under: Home Selling in Baltimore County  |  March 29, 2011 7:40 AM  |  1,218 views  |  1 comment

    Selling Your Home In This Market Can Certainly Be Challenging

    How can you sell your home in this Market?

    Yes, you want to get the highest price you can for your home. For this you need:
    • Effective Pricing is the most important Step you can take to sell your home.
    • Exposure to the marketplace using all forms of media, including the Internet.
    • Strategic marketing to attract attention to your property's unique features.
    • Making the home more attractive through improvements and getting it inspected by an expert.
    • Effectively negotiating the selling price, followed by a thorough completion of the transaction.

    Take advantage of the advice and efforts of a highly informed agent. Someone who knows how to handle every aspect of the selling process, from strategically marketing the home to making sure everything is signed, sealed and delivered by the closing date.

    But here's the beauty! The "new rules" are making it easier than ever before!

    On my website I provide:

    • Rich informational content.
    • Up to date information on the latest developments in Real Estate.
    • Quick responses to your urgent needs, or helpful hints to make you grow.

    So if you're thinking of selling, or if you know anyone else who's considering a move, please call or email me.

    Thanks again,

    Valerie McNeal, CDPE
    , GRI, IRES
    Certified Distressed Property Expert and Residential Specialist

    Direct: (443) 405-3587
    Office: (410) 391-6900
    Cell: (301) 704-8129
    FAX: (866) 796-3809
    RE/MAX 1st Choice
    301-704-8129 cell

  • Buying a Home After Short Sale or Foreclosure

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Baltimore, Home Selling in Baltimore, Foreclosure in Baltimore  |  March 24, 2011 6:29 AM  |  1,388 views  |  3 comments

    Buying a Home After Short Sale or Foreclosure

    As a Realtor who has been heavily involved closing Maryland short sales over the last 3 years, one of the questions that I get asked quite often from home sellers is how long will it take before I will be able to buy a home again.

    The answer to this question does not have any clear cut and dry answer. There are quite a few variables involved when trying to figure out when someone will be able to purchase a home after a foreclosure or short sale.

    Going through either a short sale or a foreclosure has the potential to seriously impact ones credit.  Government entities Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and FHA do not directly loan money to individuals but are the governing body that work with lenders to guarantee loans and free up money to provide mortgages.

    Banks typically have the authority to lend to whoever they want but will generally follow the guidelines set forth by these entities. There are some lenders of course that will take greater risks with some borrowers than others.

    Below are the general guidelines that FHA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac follow when considering a loan after a short sale or foreclosure:

    Short sale with FHA Loan

    • Can purchase right away with no mortgage default
    • 3 year wait if in default at the closing
    • Reduced wait if the borrower has re-established good credit and can show extenuating circumstances

    Short Sale With Fannie Mae Loan

    • 2 year wait if the borrower puts 20 % down
    • 4 year wait if the borrower puts between 10% to 20% down
    • 7 year wait if the borrower puts less than 10% down
    • 2 year wait if the borrower can show extenuating circumstances and puts more than 10% down

    Short Sale with Freddie Mac Loan

    • 4 year wait before being able to get a loan
    • 2 year wait if the borrower can show extenuating circumstances

    Foreclosure with an FHA Loan

    • 3 year wait before being able to get a loan
    • Reduced wait if the borrower can show extenuating circumstances and re-establishes good credit

    Foreclosure with a Fannie Mae Loan

    • 7 year wait from the completed foreclosure sale date
    • 3 year wait if the borrower can show extenuating circumstances. Additional underwriting requirements apply for 4 years after a 3 year waiting period.
    • 7 year wait for a 2nd home, cash out re-financing, or an investment property

    Foreclosure with a Freddie Mac Loan

    • 5 year wait from the completed foreclosure sale date
    • 3 year wait if the borrower can show extenuating circumstances

    ** As a side note a deed in lieu of foreclosure follows the same guidelines as FHA’s foreclosure policy, the same as Fannie Mae and Freddie Macs short sale policy.

    When analyzing the difference between completing a short sale or going through a foreclosure in regards to purchasing another property in the future it boils down to the waiting time which is more favorable in a short sale.

    Credit Scoring After Short Sale and Foreclosure

    The other question that I get from folks considering a short sale is how it will impact their credit. There is a lot of misleading information that come from Realtors, as well as online forums about the impact on credit scores. On many occasions you will hear that a short sale is far better for your credit than getting foreclosed on. This is incorrect! A credit score in a short sale or a foreclosure have the potential to be about the same. Maybe marginally better in a short sale.

    According to Fair Issac (My FICO) a company that provides analytic, decision making, and credit scoring services for financial service companies a credit score will go down by 40 to 110 points after being 30 days late.  Further, the scoring drop will increase to 70 to 135 points after 90 days late on a mortgage payment.

    The average scoring drop in a short sale, foreclosure or deed in lieu is 85 to 160 points. You need to keep in mind that in both short sales and foreclosure it is possible that the credit score drop could be closer to 200-300 points.

    Credit scoring factors vary from individual to individual. The scoring change is heavily dependent on where the credit score was before the negative event took place. Both a short sale and foreclosure are considered a loan that was not paid as agreed.

    What happens to your credit score in each of these events could be different than someone else who goes through the same financial event. Unfortunately, most of the time the higher the credit score the greater the decrease from where you started.

    When trying to decide whether a short sale is right for you do be fooled into making the decision under false hopes that your credit will not be impacted all that much. The biggest advantage in a short sale is the shortened time frame in which you will be able to purchase a home in the future.

    One of the most important steps after going through either a short sale or foreclosure is to be conscious about trying to improve your credit standing. .

    *** The above information for waiting periods before buying a home after completing a short sale and foreclosure was sourced by the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac selling guides along with the FHA handbook.

    Your Realtor,


    Valerie McNeal, CDPE, CRS, GRI, IRES

    Certified Distressed Property Expert

    Certified Residential Specialist

    Graduate, Realtor Institute

    International Real Estate Specialist


    The MAC Team of RE/MAX First Choice


    410-391-6900 Office

    443-405-3587 Direct

    301-704-8129 Cell

    1-866-796-3809 eFax




    Check out my website at:



    Facing Foreclosure? We can help, please visit:



    "Thank You For Your Referrals and Your Continued Trust"


    If you know someone who is considering buying or selling or need information on foreclosure assistance, please give me a call. I will provide professional & courteous service along with knowledgeable guidance through the process.


  • Certified Distressed Property Expert (CDPE MD)

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Baltimore, Home Buying in Baltimore, Home Selling in Baltimore  |  March 21, 2011 4:22 AM  |  1,346 views  |  2 comments

    Valerie McNeal of RE/MAX First Choice  in Baltimore  is a Certified Distressed Property Expert (CDPE), having completed extensive training in Foreclosure Avoidance and Short Sales. This is invaluable expertise to offer at a time when the area is ravaged by "distressed" homes in the foreclosure process.

    Short sales allow the cash-strapped seller to repay the mortgage at the price that the home sells for, even though it is lower than what is owed on the property. With plummeting property values, this can save many people from foreclosure and even bankruptcy. More and more lenders are willing to consider short sales because they are much less costly than foreclosures.

    In the Baltimore area, more than 1 out of 5  homes are in danger of foreclosing. It is happening in all price ranges. Local experts say that even high-priced homes are not immune.

    "This CDPE designation has been invaluable as I work with sellers and lenders on complicated short sales," said McNeal. "It is so rewarding to be able to help sellers save their homes from foreclosure." 


    1 out of 5 homeowners who go into foreclosure end up there without having received any professional help.  A Licensed Realtor like Valerie McNeal who has earned the prestigious Certified Distressed Property Expert (CDPE) is uniquely qualified to help homeowners in financial trouble and may be facing the possibility of foreclosure.

    Definition of a Distressed Property:

    1.  Property that is in poor physical condition.

    2.  Property that is or will be in some stage of the foreclosure process.

    3.  Property that is owned by a person or persons who is or are experiencing a period of financial instability.

    4.  Property on which the mortgages total an amount higher than the current value and an owner must sell.

    There are many reasons why a property may fall into one of the categories above.  Some of the reasons are:

    • SubPrime lending market began to show major signs of issues in 2005 and 06 - mortgage companies and lenders actually began closing and declaring insolvency at alarming rates. 
    • Rapid appreciation of the real estate market drove the creation of a new category of homeowner, the "investor".
    •  Nat'l Assoc. of Realtors reported that in 2005, 4 in 10 or 40% of home purchases were investment or second homes. 
    • A boom in the condo and new construction markets. 
    • Many borrowers who may have the credit and income to refinance no longer have the equity in their properties due to the depreciation in their homes value. 
    • The decrease in number of lending institutions has decreased the number of options that buyers have making it difficult for those now buying a home to qualify for financing. 
    • Many areas of the country, homeowners who have to sell are competing with builder closeouts, REOs, and other distressed properties that are driving down values.

    Areas of Expertise

    Valerie is a Certified Residential Specialist as well as a Certified Distressed Property Expert and International Real Estate Specialist currently specializing in Short Sales, Foreclosures and Distressed Properties of all kinds.

    International Real Estate Specialist designation allows Valerie to be able to market prestigious properties to the World. Today, sophisticated buyers and sellers from around the world are looking for Global agents, not just Local agents. Knowledge about the International Real Estate Market is of the utmost importance.

  • Using Color To Sell A Home

    Posted Under: Home Selling in Baltimore County  |  February 15, 2009 11:39 AM  |  1,468 views  |  1 comment

    Using Color to Sell a Home red paint can 2

    Choosing the right paint color can impact the sale of a home. Start on the outside: simple color schemes can make any home look well-cared for and modern. Choose a deep red or green for the front door and paint the shutters a complementary color.

    Weather and sunlight fade even the brightest colors making them appear old and dingy. Look at the colors of the homes in the neighborhood and choose colors that harmonize.   

    Interior paint colors can increase your profit potential. Entryways should bring the exterior colors into the house. Repeating several shades throughout will make the entire home harmonious.

    When choosing paint colors think neutral - soft beiges, tans or greens will appeal to the largest number of homeowners. Don't choose stark white - it shows off every little wall imperfection and makes furnishings look cold and sterile. Soft colors provide the best backdrop for most homeowner's furniture and accessories.  Need help choosing the best color? Give us a call or visit .

    The Psychology of Color

    Ever wonder why you find yourself attracted to a certain color? The following are some common colors and personality traits that match:  

    • Red - Almost always optimistic and stimulating, those who prefer red are animated leaders and want to experience everything they can in life.
    • Yellow - If your favorite color is yellow you have a yearning for the new and modern . . . and you look forward to the future.  
    • Blue - You are capable, trusting and conservative, and have a basic need for a calm, harmonious and tension-free existence.  
    • Pink - Pink is welcomed by the affectionate and concerned individual. Romantic and demure, pink recalls a time of youth, dreams and refinement.  
    • Green - Very intelligent, you understand new ideas. When you start something, you finish it.You are stable, balanced, and tend to be sensitive.  
    • Brown - Should you take comfort in brown. . . this may signify that you are a conscientious, dependable and steady person.  
    • White -  the person who chooses white prefers simplicity and the innocence of their youth.  

    red couchStaging Tips and Guidelines

    When trying to sell in a tough market a home needs to be in the best possible condition. The following are guidelines to use when preparing a home for a sale:  In every room stand at the doorway and look at the room as a potential buyer would. What do you see? What will the buyer see?

    Keep all curtains and blinds open during the day to let in light and views.

    Less is more. Remove excess furniture.

    Clean, clean, clean.

    Check all light fixtures. Place small lamps in dark areas.

    Reduce the number of accent pillows - they don't photograph well.

    Reduce the number of books on bookshelves - pack them up early.

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