Leading Real Estate & Home Professionals Summer 2021 Q & A

Joe, given your stature and experience in government, what prompted you to join NDG Home Team in the real estate business?

I’m leaving government but I’m not ready to retire. I’ve achieved my personal goals and I’d like to make a difference in people’s lives. Brant Nielsen was instrumental in helping me realize the dream of owning the perfect home when others lacked the vision and tenacity. I’d like to help NDG clients achieve their dreams too. 

What do you feel you can contribute to the NDG Home Team?

I don’t know construction, but I do have deep experience building teams and developing an organization based on the values of integrity, transparency, accountability and honesty. These values instilled in NDG by Brant, align with my own and I believe I can help nurture and grow a culture that enables the successful development of NDG Home Team members.

Running a large organization, I learned the importance of capturing and recording detail. For real estate customers, the information overload can be intimidating and overwhelming. I’m really adept at finessing the process and making it clear and simple for buyers and sellers alike.

Joe Bickley
Senior Defense Department Executive
NDG Home Team

How should I best prepare to meet with an agent to list my home?

Have a discussion with any other decision maker in the home about your goals, budget, and timelines. Make sure you are ready to sell, know what date you need to sell your home by, and what your budget is for any necessary home improvements or repairs. Make a list of any home improvements you have made to the home. Get an extra key made for the lockbox. Be prepared to take the agent on a tour of your home and share your favorite features about the home and the community.

The DAVID ORSO Team of Compass Real Estate

What are the top three features that buyers look for in a top tier waterfront property?

Privacy is paramount, many of the buyers coming to the Annapolis area in search of a retreat to relax and escape from the hectic city life. Waterview is also extremely important. Unobstructed panoramic views always fetch a premium in this market and the most coveted feature is the waterfront pool. The local critical area laws are very restrictive and having a pool on the waterside can be a challenge to have permitted, so an existing waterside pool is a major value add.

BRAD KAPPEL, TTR | Sotheby’s International Realty

Is staging really important when selling a home?

Critically! We aren’t simply talking about staging vacant homes either. Every homeowner has to go through the transition from LIVING in a home to SELLING a home. Most homeowners are not able to make that transition by themselves, nor should they. Therefore, it is extremely important to have an expert there to guide them step by step on what to do and what not to do to maximize value and minimize time on the market.


With the ability to search for homes online myself, why should I hire a buyer’s agent?

The Internet has made it easier for buyers to tour homes online and narrow down their list. The seller of the home pays the commission of the buyer’s agent, so it doesn’t end up costing you anything as the buyer, but it can end up saving you time and money by having the guidance of an agent. The closing process for a buyer is quite involved from the home inspection and the loan to all the paperwork and coordination—all the steps to get you to a stress-free settlement. Buying a home is an exciting time, so you should enjoy it and leave the less fun parts to the agent!

The DAVID ORSO Team of Compass Real Estate

What is title insurance?

Title insurance protects from matters resulting from unknown liens, or other defects, affecting the title that existed prior to your purchase that were not discovered. Examples could include property taxes not paid by previous owner, fraud or forgery of a prior deed, or a spouse or unknown heir who makes a claim against title. Defending these matters could be very expensive and could cause you to lose the property itself. A title insurance policy provides coverage for legal defense, as well as the coverage amount listed in the policy.

Mid-Maryland Title Company, Inc.

What important questions should I ask before choosing my builder?

Quality homes and happy customers don’t happen by accident. Successful builders have established well-honed systems to manage each project. Be sure to ask the following:

  • When does the builder become involved? Early stage involvement will yield significant savings.
  • Does the builder understand the building codes?
  • Has the builder established relationships with local authorities to ensure a smooth permit process?
  • Have past projects met projected/promised deadlines?
  • Does the builder use quality subcontractors who offer competitive pricing?
  • Does the builder carry all required licenses and insurance policies?

Dave Lunden
President, Timberlake Design/Builders

How is the market?

The market has been strong and vibrant the last 15 months. We are still experiencing a low inventory, high demand phase making it an ideal time to sell a property. The luxury market has been more active than ever before with more $1M+ sales and more high-value waterfront sales than ever. Buyers continue to be attracted to turn-key properties and have proven they will spend top dollar for quality of life. The pandemic highlighted a need for flexible work space/practices, more functional home life and a demand for space than we’ve seen in 15 years. The low interest rates have kept buyers interested and continued this renaissance of real estate sales.

SHANE HALL of Compass Real Estate

In this hot seller’s market, should I bother fixing up my home prior to selling?

While we are in a hot seller’s market, it is wise to consider the following updates to distinguish your home from others: paint, staging & decor, fresh landscaping, light fixtures, and a deep clean. These relatively inexpensive updates quickly transform your space and help attract multiple buyers. In this seller’s market, sinking a ton of money into major renovations may not make sense. It’s always best to ask your real estate agent for their professional opinion to maximize your return on investment. 

Diane Mallare, Diane & Crew of Taylor Properties

What’s the best location for the Master Bedroom?

Everyone has a different idea of the perfect master bedroom location depending on their needs. Here are some points for your consideration:

First floor master bedrooms are convenient and offer the ease of one-floor living. Although, noise from adjacent living spaces can be intrusive. When you choose a second floor location, you’re less likely to be bothered by noise from the great room or the kitchen, however, some noise transmission from other bedrooms is bound to occur.

One of the quietest locations for your master bedroom is the back of the house.

This could make you feel disconnected from other areas, particularly if you have children. Front master bedrooms allow you peace of mind since you can quickly look out the window to identify visitors or monitor the yard. However, street lights, headlights, and neighbors could also be in view at this location, which can be unwelcome. 

Tyler Marold, Residential Designer, Lundberg Builders

How should I price my home in this market?

Sellers fall into the trap of incorrectly pricing their home in a hot market and it costs them lots of money.   If you want to obtain top dollar then you need to let the buyers compete to drive the price 

and terms to an optimal point in the negotiation; which will happen very quickly.  The “profit” comes from a competitive buyer pool outbidding one another.  Professional experience, market research and understanding pricing strategy is more important than ever in a fast market because there is NO time to recover from an error.  It’s truly binary: win fast -or- lose fast.

The DAVID ORSO Team of Compass Real Estate

What can someone buying waterfront property in Annapolis expect to find?

Annapolis is a diverse community rich in history and culture and offers a huge selection of waterfront homes ranging from condos to luxurious estates.  With our direct access to the Chesapeake Bay and some of the best boating, fishing, and crabbing in the world, it’s not surprising to see waterfront home sales and values on the rise. Welcome to the Annapolis lifestyle.

Associate Broker
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

If a lot of foreclosures hit the market, will that bring down home values?

Banks are unlikely to let what happened from 2008-2012 happen again, especially when the real estate market is playing a big part in our economic recovery.

It’s also important to consider:

  • Nearly 30% of borrowers in forbearance are still current on their mortgage payments.
  • Banks likely don’t want to repeat the mistakes of the Great Recession.This time, many will instead negotiate a modification plan with the borrower, which will enable households to maintain ownership of the home.
  • With the amount of equity homeowners have today, many will be able to sell instead of going into foreclosure.

Christina Janosik Palmer, Christina Janosik Palmer Group of Keller Williams Flagship of Maryland

Should I wait to sell my home?

If you’re thinking of putting your house on the market, don’t wait. A seller should always be able to negotiate the best deal when demand is high, and supply is low. That’s exactly what’s happening in the real estate market today. As vaccine rollouts progress and we continue to see the economy recover, more houses will come to the market. Don’t wait for the competition in your neighborhood to increase. If you’re ready to make a move, now is the time to sell.

Erica Baker, TTR | Sotheby’s International Realty

Is the market shifting?

The first six months of 2021 have been the best I have seen in 20 years and appear to be the best by all recorded metrics.  The demand for homes (total number of homes sold) is statistically greater than ever before. It is the demand driving the market with limited supply of inventory as a compounding factor (in that order). I firmly believe our market will continue to thrive through the end of 2021. There will be a summer slowdown due to normal familial factors such as travel, back to school and other activities which is very normal. We have a strong fall market and I think properly priced homes in good condition will continue to experience the strength of this market.

The DAVID ORSO Team of Compass Real Estate

What types of issues do Maryland sellers and landlords not have to disclose to potential buyers and tenants?

Maryland state law does not obligate a seller, landlord, or the real estate licensee to disclose to a potential buyer or tenant that a death, including a homicide, suicide, or natural death, has occurred on the premises. Furthermore, the seller and the listing agent are immune from any civil liability and criminal penalty as it relates to disclosing of this information. Additionally, unlike some other states, sellers and landlords are not required to report stigmatizing events, such as paranormal activity, “hauntings,” and criminal felonies that have occurred on the property. 

Kristen Swartz, Diane & Crew of Taylor Properties

If I bought title insurance when I bought my house, why do I need to buy it again when I refinance my mortgage?

There are two different types of title insurance policies: owner’s insurance, and lender’s insurance. An owner’s title insurance policy covers you, the consumer, for as long as you own the home. The lender’s policy is specific to the mortgage that is being insured.  Therefore, when you refinance your loan, the original lenders policy is no longer valid, and a new policy must be issued to insure your lender’s lien priority on the property. You should, however, be able to benefit from the highly discounted rates for refinance transactions that are now widely available. 

Brooke Silard, Settlement Officer | Eagle Title, LLC

What are the most common problems identified on a title search?

We frequently find unreleased mortgages from prior, or even the current, owners of the property. Some homeowners forget they have open credit lines that are still secured against their home. There are also many occurrences where federal and/or state tax liens remain unpaid, or homeowners have outstanding HOA and/or Front Foot utility assessments. While there are a wide range of issues that can be uncovered during a search of the title to a property, an experienced title company can help mitigate and resolve most issues that arise in timely fashion. 

Bradley T. Walsh, ESQUIRE, Vice President | Eagle Title, LLC

Any tips for a first-time home buyer preparing for the settlement process?

Check out the free Consumer Tools offered by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Their online resources include a closing checklist and other valuable guides. Additionally, the American Land Title Association (ALTA) has a selection of educational resources that explain title insurance, including a closing disclosure explainer that is very informative. Most importantly, make sure you work with a well-trained settlement officer and reputable title insurance company. It is our job to guide you through the closing process and involve our team of professional processors, and experienced attorneys as needed, to make sure your settlement experience is smooth and successful.

CYNTHIA DUNN, Settlement Officer | Eagle Title, LLC

What if I sell my home but I’m not able to find a new one to buy?

Many sellers are concerned that if they do decide to sell their home, they won’t be able to find one to buy in time for closing. It’s more important than ever to use an Agent with the negotiating tactics, availability, and commitment to help you find a house that meets your needs in a timely fashion.

While pre-owned inventory may not be plentiful, the new construction homes hitting the housing market are a good option to explore. Plus, closing dates are negotiable, especially in a competitive market. It may be a good time to get creative and explore alternative loan options that let you buy a home before you sell yours, something that could bring peace of mind to a weary seller.

Christina Janosik Palmer, Christina Janosik Palmer Group of Keller Williams Flagship of Maryland

Do you expect the current unprecedented Seller’s Market conditions will continue for the remainder of 2021?

Yes! Urban transplants are migrating from the surrounding high-density and creating such a high level of demand. These new Annapolitans are often snatching up properties immediately after they come on the market. This trend will continue to lead to low inventory levels creating high demand. Mortgage interest rates are also expected to stay at extremely low making this transition even more desirable for home buyers. In summary, high buyer demand to invest in the Annapolis lifestyle plus low inventory and low interest loans equals a true Seller’s Market! 

BRAD KAPPEL, TTR | Sotheby’s International Realty

What measures are in place at Bay Village to ensure the safety and security of residents?

There are many safeguards in place for our residents, most notably, all residents and staff are fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Our community is laid out to allow for maximum independence including large hallways, handrails, and zero-entry showers. We offer physical, occupational, and speech therapy with programs built specifically for the resident. We are fully staffed, including an on-call nurse, 24/7. Our entry control system, Accu-Shield, scans each visitor upon signing in, takes their temperature, and verifies the reason for the visit. Residents wear a device called Wanderguard, equipped with GPS, eliminating the ability to exit the building and have fobs that only open their specific apartment door. With these benefits, our residents can comfortably and safely enjoy all the other features we have to offer.

JOHN DEGEN, Executive Operations Officer, Bay Village Assisted Living and Memory Care

Why should I choose a Waterfront Specialist to sell my home?

Your waterfront homes is one of your largest assets. As you consider whom to trust with your unique property, you need to ask about their qualifications. Does the agent have a website that is dedicated to waterfront and water-oriented properties? Does the agent’s marketing plan include substantial print advertising as well as digital? Print has gotten very expensive and many agents aren’t placing print ads because of the cost. Make sure your agent understands the subtleties of waterfront and can showcase the specific attributes of your valuable asset. After all, you wouldn’t expect to see your Ferrari in a Chevy dealership! Specialization and expertise truly matter.

Reid Buckley, Waterfront Specialist, The Mr. Waterfront® Team of Long & Foster

When is the best time to buy or sell real estate and what do we do if we think we need to do updates or repairs before the property goes on the market? 

Due to the historical record setting low inventory of homes available for sale, the seasonal market has not had much bearing on today’s activity as we’ve seen in the past. As the market starts to settle and become more balanced, this may adjust back to the surge of homes coming on the market in the spring and fall creating increased competition for sellers and more choices for buyers. Timing the market depends on what is truly best for your own individual situation to make that decision. To get the best guidance and advice, consulting an experienced local realtor is the first step. Before undertaking any updates or repairs let us advise you of the most up to date marketing recommendations. We even have partners that will make renovations or licensed repairs to your property and delay the cost until closing. Most importantly,  this way you have marketing expertise and guidance as to what is necessary and the best choices to increase your property value and avoid wasted time and money. 

CHRISTY BISHOP, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Realty

What’s happening in the waterfront market?

The first half of 2021 continued to see record demand in the residential waterfront market. Inventory levels have remained at historic lows, which has led to explosive upward pressure on housing prices. Sellers who purchased their waterfront property in the early 2000’s have finally gotten out of the red and are seeing profits when they sell their homes. From a buyer’s perspective, it has been an extremely challenging market.  Low interest rates and increased liquidity in the market have led to robust demand from the buyer’s side. This has created extreme competition between buyers and resulted in sellers being able to negotiate a robust package of non-monetary terms into the sales contract. As a team, we have sold more homes with no inspections, appraisals, and/or financing than in the past 10 year combined. Expectations for the fall market remain strong, however due to the post Covid travel and vacation demand, the hot summer month of August should slightly soften the buyer side demand. I would expect that trend to turn post Labor Day as waterfront buyers and seller re-enter the market.

JOSEPH BRAY, Waterfront Specialist, The Mr. Waterfront® Team of Long & Foster

A 10 acre parcel of land was part of a family farm that was subdivided 25 years ago. Survey shows a fence and barn but the brother neighbor is still using them. What do I advise?

Owners of large tracts of land often subdivided parcels to give to each child.  When one child wants to sell theirs things can get dicey. Maryland has a 20 year adverse possession claim if a person shows open, notorious and hostile use for 20 plus years. Here, the Brother openly used the barn and land for 25 years without objection. Brother may assert claims for adverse possession taking part of the property and the barn as his own. To prevent that the buyer needs an agreement where Brother waives claims of adverse possession of anything on buyers property as shown per the survey. Easements or leases may also be created allowing Brother to continue use of the barn and fence if the buyers agree. 

Glenn Russell Donaldson, esq., Velocity Title

In today’s market with limited inventory and multiple offers, how can a buyer make their offer stand out?

Relationships matter so work with an experienced agent and an established and responsive local lender who can assure the listing agent of the buyer’s qualifications, and that underwriting will go smoothly. Purchase price matters, but so does accuracy, timing, and preparation. Have everything ready before your dream house shows up on the market. Be sure paperwork is perfect, find out how best to accommodate any of the sellers needs, and have all your inspections already scheduled when you make your offer. The offer is just the start so present the offer in a way that assures the seller you are committed to getting to the finish line.

MALINA KOERSCHNER, Coldwell Banker Realty

What are the benefits of using an Agent with Licences in Multiple States?

I am licensed in Maryland and Florida which has proven to be a tremendous benefit to my Clients throughout the years. I was born and raised in Maryland but my parents had a Winter home in Jupiter Florida since 1979 so I have been able to become familiar and knowledgeable in both markets.I maintain homes in Florida and Maryland and with BWI offering Non-Stop flights to West Palm Beach airport I can easily be in either place within 2 1/2 hours. My Clients enjoy having a Realtor that they can trust when Buying or Selling their Maryland homes or their dream homes in the Sunshine State. I carry the same level of professionalism and strict code of ethics whether I am working in Maryland or Florida. Many of my Clients say that I am “The perfect blend of North meets South”. 

Michael Rutledge, The Rutledge Team of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services


The Engel & Völkers shops in Annapolis and Ocean City grew over 80% last year. What about your firm attracted so many new clients?

With the full support of our global network, state-of-the-art technology options and unmatched resources, our advisors are always exceeding clients expectations. At Engel & Völkers we don’t just have agents, but rather, trusted advisors to guide you through your home journey with extensive neighborhood expertise, white glove service and a love for our community. Our commitment to excellence shows in everything we do, and happy clients can’t wait to spread the news.

Staci Foster, Director of Advisor Success, Engel & Völkers

When is the best time to sell my home?

Whatever fits your personal timeline. There is a peak season from March to the end of May where the inventory level is the highest but remember, more inventory means more competition.

The off season is where magic can happen with serious buyers and sellers. 

JENNIFER CHINO, Stahley Thompson Homes of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty

What steps can a buyer take to prepare for making an offer in such a competitive market?

Time and organization matter! Since sellers are likely looking at multiple offers, do what you can in advance to be ready to go so that you appear prepared to the seller. Use a lender that’s available on the weekends and evenings to provide a prequalification letter specific to your offer with short notice. Have proof of funds for your down payment ready. Ask your Agent to inquire about non-financial preferences of the seller such as inclusions and exclusions and settlement date. Simple steps like these can give you “leg up” when in a competitive buying situation.

CHUCK MANGOLD JR., Benson & Mangold Real Estate

What would you say is the most important factor to consider when selling a waterfront property?

In order to generate the sizzle when you first list your home you need to price it right, make sure your home is polished up so it shines and don’t forget high quality aerial photos. That said, the key factor is to make sure you hire a brokerage that effectively targets the Washington D.C. / Metro market. Recent sales data indicates that most premier waterfront properties are sold to buyers who are migrating this way to experience the Annapolitan lifestyle. 

BRAD KAPPEL, TTR | Sotheby’s International Realty

What are the benefits of living in a Retirement Cooperative Community like Londonderry?

Londonderry’s cooperative community structure is unique and offers the financial benefits of owning real estate without the burden of home and property maintenance. Membership in the corporation is achieved through the issue of a stock certificate and resident owners have a large impact on how the community is managed and operated. As a shareholder in a cooperative community, residents may recoup all their initial investment, plus appreciation, dependent on the real estate market’s performance. With the help of a on-site leadership team, residents enjoy working together to create an exceptional and vibrant senior living community.

Rachel Smith, Londonderry on the Tred Avon

What is attracting luxury buyers to Maryland’s Eastern Shore? 

We’ve seen a huge uptick in luxury home sales on the Eastern Shore over the past year. Buyers are looking for an all-in-one retreat that’s drivable from their metropolitan area homes—a place from which they can telecommute, work out in their home gym, swim in their pool, and enjoy the sights and sounds of waterfront living from their boat or their shoreline. Fortunately for my clients, I carry with me 19 years of real estate and finance experience that provides unparalleled knowledge of waterfront properties and makes their homebuying or selling process a breeze. 

TREY RIDER, TTR | Sotheby’s International Realty

What similarities and differences do you see relative to the ‘housing market crash’ of 2008, vs. in comparison to the ‘escalated’ marketplace of today?

The market leading up to the housing crash of late 2008, was one in which escalated market values were commonly leveraged within buyers’ financing. At a time when buyer confidence soared, too little caution was given in utilizing the low, ‘teaser’ interest rates in order to compete for a buyer’s desired property. Assumed perpetuation of a ‘double-digit’ appreciating market- year over year, became a dangerous gamble. What goes up, must come down. As the market ‘normalized’, many buyers were left upside-down with loss of equity, and homeowners’ inability to qualify for ‘fully amortized’ loan payments- thereby severely crippling the housing market and buyer confidence. Unlike today’s marketplace, whereby bid escalations are most commonly funded with a buyers’ existing wealth- not leveraged with temporary, teaser interest rates. Though on the rise, interest rates are still near historic lows- giving buyers access to fully amortized, fixed-rate loans. As the market will inherently self-correct between supply and demand- the circumstances behind the housing crash of late 2008 will remain a distant memory.

Jennifer Chaney, Chaney Homes

Why a Real Estate Agent & what do I get for that commission?

When hiring a Real Estate agent, you are getting an exchange of services for an agreed upon commission the seller pays to the Real Estate Company. Not all agents are equal in services they provide, or commissions they receive. Top agents often invest significant time & resources into completing a sale, including professional photo’s, home staging, floor plans, and advertising. Agents coordinate all kinds of activities including open houses, inspections, negotiate contracts and engage in many tasks aimed to sell your home. You want a highly competent agent that knows your specific market and who has experience navigating the complexities of the market for your home selling process. A majority of the time Real Estate Agents will succeed in getting you a higher sales price than if you sold yourself.

Why should I choose an expert to sell my waterfront home?

Waterfront homes have their own vocabulary: rip-rap, bulkhead, mean low water, riparian rights, docks, slips, phragmite, etc. You need a Realtor who uses these terms fluently, can explain possible advantages/disadvantages to certain properties, and is capable of problem solving in these specialized areas if necessary. My extensive personal and professional background make me a natural choice.

DeeDee McCracken, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

How do you help your clients when selling an estate property?

Selling a home that has been in a family for many decades can be strenuous. If there are multiple inheritors involved those stresses are quickly multiplied. Anyone who has acted as an executor will tell you that it can be a time consuming and tiring process. Helping my clients keep their emotions at bay and keeping all family members informed is very important. Providing guidance and support is necessary for a smooth and successful transaction. 

LONA SUE TODD, Taylor Properties

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