Maryland’s Recapture Tax Means Estates May Owe Back a Portion of the Homestead Tax Credit

Maryland’s Recapture Tax Means Estates May Owe Back a Portion of the Homestead Tax Credit

Many counties in Maryland recently changed their treatment of the Homestead Tax Credit when an estate is the seller. This new Recapture Tax comes as an unwelcome surprise to listing agents and personal representatives because it can drastically reduce seller net proceeds.

First, let’s talk about the Homestead Tax Credit (HTC). The HTC shields homeowners from drastic tax increases. The credit is reserved only for a principal residence. A homeowner is eligible to apply after they lived in the property for one year.

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Money Laundering, FinCEN and What It Now Means for You

Money Laundering, FinCEN and What It Now Means for You

Unfortunately, money laundering occurs in real life — and not just by Jason Bateman in “Ozark.”

Traditional hotspots have been California, Miami, New York, Chicago. But guess who just made the list!

The US Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued a new Geographic Targeting Order with reporting requirements that affect real estate transactions in Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia, Maryland and especially Baltimore!

As of 4/29/2022, if your CASH buyer is paying as little as $50,000 in Baltimore City and County, or $300,000 in Maryland, D.C. or Virginia, they may have some explaining to do. (more…)

Understanding Guardianship and Property-Related Decisions

Understanding Guardianship and Property-Related Decisions

If you’ve been a Realtor for any length of time, you know that people will come to you for advice on all things related to real estate.

At some point in your career, you’re bound to encounter a question about how to handle a situation where the owner of a property, likely a loved one, is no longer mentally and physically able to care for the property and make the necessary decisions about how to handle the property — including when it’s time to sell.

It could be because of a disability or it could be because of a reduced mental capacity associated with advancing age.

Of course, they will think of you.

“What do I do?” they’ll ask.

The answer may be to initiate a Guardianship proceeding on behalf of the disabled adult. The state of Maryland has many resources available to help those involved navigate a Guardianship petition. But be warned, it’s a complex, judicial process, and it will take time and effort to prove that assuming guardianship is the right course of action.

To demonstrate the need will require that the need is certified by two medical professionals. At least one must be a physician, while the other could be a nurse practitioner, psychologist or clinical social worker.

In the end, the court will make the ultimate decision on whether the adult is fit to make decisions regarding their property.

For those interested in learning more about the Adult Guardianship process, download our Guardianship Info Sheet.

Still looking for more? Additional details are available here.

5 Tips to Winning Repeat Clients and Referrals

5 Tips to Winning Repeat Clients and Referrals

No matter how amazing you are at your job, sometimes the most difficult part is finding new business.

Whether you’re a real estate agent or a lender, you’re going to have plenty of competition out there. Buyers and sellers have options, and it’s an uphill battle to get their attention.

That’s why the secret to success is maximizing your repeat clients and referrals. If you can take your existing clients and increase their impact exponentially through subsequent transactions and connecting you with their friends and family, you’ll be well-positioned for prosperity.

It’s always easier to keep an existing client than to find a brand new one, especially if you’re amazing at your job.

Keep these 5 tips in mind to grow your business through repeats and referrals:

  1. Deliver Excellent Service

It all starts here. If you want clients to come back and if you want them to refer you to their friends, you have to do an awesome job for them. You have to do an awesome job for every client, every time. You never know which client will be the one who generates a long string of business for you in the months and years ahead.

2. Continue Providing Value

Once the transaction is over, let them know that you won’t disappear on them. Make sure they know you are still available for any questions they have. Then add them to an automated email campaign that provides important information and news about the housing market, home maintenance and decorating tips, or refinancing opportunities. Every piece of outreach should provide value to their lives.

3. Recognize Special Moments

While automation is great and will save you loads of time, a personal touch makes all the difference. A simple handwritten note on their birthday or the anniversary of their home purchase lets them know that you genuinely care about them. Look for other milestones, too — births, graduations, new jobs. In this age of digital communication, a quick, friendly, handwritten note still works wonders.

4. Be Helpful on Social

Your social media presence is your chance to establish yourself as an expert in your industry … and a pretty fun person to work with. A high-performing presence is a healthy blend of useful, informative information and fun, engaging content. Speaking of engagement, make sure you’re always ready to reply to comments and keep the conversation going. That’s what makes it social!

5. Ask for Referrals

The final step to getting more referrals is the one that many often forget. You have to ask for them. If you’ve done a great job for your clients, they will be happy to spread the word. All you’ve got to do is give them a little nudge. Let them know how much you appreciate it when they refer their friends and families. You can even consider offering a special referral reward when you close a deal with someone they’ve referred to you.

Legislative Revision Makes It Easier to Buy and Sell Homes with Ground Rent

Legislative Revision Makes It Easier to Buy and Sell Homes with Ground Rent

The concept of ground rent in Baltimore and surrounding counties may be traced back to colonial times when investors bought tracts of land from the newly sovereign colonial governments and allowed tenants who otherwise could not purchase land for themselves to make small, incremental rent payments as a less-expensive alternative to land ownership.

This practice may be out of date in today’s market yet most leases renew in perpetuity. Some ground rent holders are registered with the State Department of Assessment & Taxation, many leases holders are unknown.

In the past, If the owner of the ground leases couldn’t be identified, we’d have to hold from the seller 3 years’ worth of estimated ground rent payments, plus attorney’s fees, in the event that the ground rent holder suddenly appeared and made a claim.

That typically meant that we’d collect an average of about $700 from the seller to hold in escrow for three years.

Now the state of Maryland has changed its statute and noted that if the ground rent owner has not registered the ground rent with the state, past due amounts may not be demanded.

That means we no longer have to hold estimated ground rent payments or attorney fees, and your sellers’ net proceeds just increased by $700!

Contact us for more information on identifying registered ground rents and how to extinguish an existing ground rent.

Team Member Spotlight: Senior Processor Becky Ohlinger

Team Member Spotlight: Senior Processor Becky Ohlinger

Almost no closing is impossible with Advantage Title, and that’s because of our awesome team members like Becky Ohlinger.

Whether it’s settling on a property here in Maryland or maybe coordinating a closing in Argentina or the Dominican Republic, Becky will find a way to get it done. We already know how hard she works for our clients, so let’s take a few moments to get to know her a little better outside the office.

Are you an early bird or a night owl?
I try to get up at 6:00 every day. I do a few chores and then log in to my computer and answer emails. I don’t drink coffee, I don’t watch the news. I just get up and get moving.

Who is the most famous person you ever met?
I was on a plane from New York to Cleveland. I sat with a bunch of guys heading to a basketball game. We talked for the whole flight. We got off the plane and said our goodbyes. My brother was picking me up from the airport, and he was in shock! He said do you know who that was? That’s Patrick Ewing!!!”

What’s your craziest settlement story?
I had an out-of-country closing in Argentina. It was challenging to get notarized because the embassies are closed during the pandemic. Luckily, Argentina is part of the Hague Convention. We can accept their notaries but they must go to an Apostille, which is like a notary for notaries that verifies everything is valid. I’m working on another one right now in the Dominican Republic.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?
The weirdest thing I’ve had and liked is Octopus Sunomono! It’s sushi with cucumbers and rice vinegar.

What is the first thing you are doing when the pandemic is over?
A cruise!! I really want to go to the eastern Caribbean — Grand Turks or Jamaica. I’ve been to the west side and want to visit somewhere new.