Bethesda, Chevy Chase Real Estate News

HUD Bans Builder Incentives to Use Affiliated Mortgage and/or Title Companies

Here’s an email that I just got from a lender from Bank of America:

“Good news for our buyers!! Beginning January 16th, builders will not be able to offer discounts if the buyer uses their affiliated mortgage or title companies. My experience is that ultimately the buyer gets higher rates and inferior service when using affiliated companies of the builder. Now we can get our buyers into professional lenders hands like me! Please take a minute and read below.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development, in rewriting the RESPA rules, has clamped down on builder discounts that are tied to use of the homebuilder's mortgage company. Starting Jan. 16, builders won't be able to offer $10,000 discounts on the purchase price if the homebuyer uses their affiliated mortgage or title company. The final Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act rule issued by HUD on Nov. 17 says these referral arrangements are potentially "problematic" under RESPA. "RESPA and this final rule limit tying such a discount to the use of an affiliated settlement provider," HUD says. Homebuilders, Realtors, mortgage bankers and other industry groups opposed this rule change. The National Association of Home Builders contends the change will eliminate significant savings for homebuyers. But a NAHB spokesman said the builders are not ready to comment on HUD's action. RESPA attorney Phillip Schulman said builders will have to change the way they promote their affiliates. "They won't be able to link the incentive to the use of the affiliate," the K&L Gates partner said.”

I must admit that I have to agree with HUD’s decision on this - although I don’t agree with my lender buddy’s assessment that builder affiliates often have higher rates (note that I didn’t question his comment about “inferior service” – because I’ve seen this much too often with these affiliates). Oftentimes,...

Google's Most Meaningful Results

My Father, Merrill "Brit" Englund
I think it’s probably happened to all of us…at least if you’re over 30 years old. You go thru your daily life and then every once in a while, you have that “aha” moment when you recognize the importance and convenience of the internet in your life. It’s so easy to find answers to practically anything using this great tool. It’s simple…you just “Google” any term, phrase or name and you have instant knowledge literally at your fingertips.

Although I know this intellectually, and use it often, I don’t always apply this technology to my every day life…and a great example of this occurred this week. I got an email from my younger brother who lives in Montana, sharing some information that he’d found about our father on the internet. In helping his own son do some internet research, my brother had (basically on a lark, I think) Googled our dad’s name, Merrill Englund. One of the search results was for the Navy Patrol Bombing Squadrons 102/14 Association (our dad was in a bombing squadron in World War II) and the site includes a photo of our father, with his squadron members, in front of a Navy bomber. Seems as though he was a member of the “D. Butler Crew”, and since Don Butler is one of the guys in the photo I assume that he (Don) was the squadron commander (if that’s even the correct term).

My dad would be 90 years old if he were still alive, but since he died before his 60th birthday, this discovery is even more meaningful to us. If you haven’t already tried to Google your parents, or grandparents, I recommend that you give it a try.

*a very special thanks to the "Navy Patrol Bombing Squadrons 102/14 Association" for the photo...

Telluride Film Festival 2008

(NOTE:  I wrote this shortly after returning from The Telluride Film Festival this past September…don’t know why it’s taken me so long to post it…but there’s still plenty of time to enjoy these movies)

Many of you already know that my husband and I have become addicted to The Telluride Film Festival.  We were introduced to this wonderful event five years ago by our good friend, Margaret Hennessey, and we have made it a point to go every year since then.  Telluride is truly a special place and if you haven't been and have a chance to go, I recommend that you make it a priority.  If you have a chance to go over Labor Day and you enjoy movies, then you'll have the best of both worlds.  When we have the flexibility, we go out on a Wednesday and spend a couple of days getting acclimated to the altitude and taking advantage of the wonderful hiking opportunities. 

The films begin on Friday evening and go thru Monday.  During that time, we usually manage to see over a dozen movies.  One of the hardest things to explain to people who have never been is that half of the fun is standing in line.  Although we buy a pass that basically lets us into every movie, it really only gives us the right to line up for that movie.

Once you figure out the size of the venue and the popularity of the show, you determine how far in advance you need to get there in order to get in.  As you plan your day, you "schedule" this waiting time....and it's great fun!  It's the time to meet people and talk about what they've seen, what you've seen, what you liked, what you didn't like, what's happening in the "outside" world (if anyone cares), where you'll go for dinner (perhaps a hot dog as you wait in another line), what "stars"...

Chevy Chase Charm...At a Reduced Price!

6702 Melville Place | Chevy Chase Maryland 20815

6702 Melville Place | Wonderful Home for sale in Chevy Chase Maryland

A wonderfully updated and expanded Cape Cod, on a jaw dropping lot, is now available for sale at the reduced price of $924,000.  This charming Chevy Chase home offers three bedrooms and three full bathrooms, which includes a master suite with a separate sitting room/office and Juliet balcony overlooking the professionally landscaped back yard.  The first floor features an updated kitchen, a cozy tv/family room, a generous formal dining room, and a large living room which opens to a sunroom.  The lower level rec room is perfect for play, exercise or guests and there is also an ample laundry/storage room.  All of this is located on a quiet, one block long street, which offers a great sense of privacy.  The estimated property tax and non-tax charges for the first full fiscal year of ownership are $8713.79. 

For interactive virtual tour and additional information, please see "related links" below...


One Bethesda Townhome - Two Virtual Tours...

"I believe the web is about expanding potential, and that begins with the exchange of ideas. It’s about communication. Far too many businesses and web “designers” use and provide it as a one-way device – void of exchange, hence denying communication and new ideas."  - SEO Knox

Hello all, Kevin Koitz here.  I wish I could take credit for the quote above.  Although I strongly believe in passing information forward to colleagues, clients, and anyone else interested for that matter, the words come from one of my friends, a Denver search engine optimization and online marketing specialist.

In the spirit of these words, however, I wanted to pop in and share some new media photo/video products that we (Gretchen & Penelope, and I) have incorporated into our marketing program.  If this post is already sounding self serving, that's a good thing because it's supposed to be.  Jokes and self promotion aside, I really wanted to use this platform to get some feedback on two virtual tour programs.  One is the current interactive floor plan/virtual tour program we currently use and the second is "the future" -- a walking video tour (think YouTube).

The foundation of any marketing program is the photography.  I can tinker around on the computer to make sure any of our listings gets seen all over the Internet; but in this world of "virtual real estate", the pictures need to be the best  possible representation of the property.  Otherwise, consumers, and even agents will go to "reject" the property and go on to the next house on the list.  I have found myself having to talk clients into seeing properties that...

Joining the Move Towards Locally Grown Organic Foods

A cousin from Massachusetts spent the night with us last weekend.  She was in Washington for a conference and it was a fun excuse to catch up.  We talked about family, politics, movies and literature, and good wine and food.

One of the things we discussed was the trend toward eating local foods.  I expressed the opinion that this wonderful idea makes great sense in certain parts of the country (i.e., California) but perhaps didn’t work really well in the Washington Metropolitan Area.  She suggested that I search the web for an organization called Local Harvest.  So I did.

If you go to, you’ll have an opportunity to identify where you live and how far you’re willing to travel to obtain local foods.  I was shocked by the number of farms, dairies and produce stands within 25 miles of Bethesda and Chevy Chase.  After the initial list, I get a daily update. 

Today, for instance, there was information about purchasing organic, free range turkeys (not local, in this case) and also rave reviews for a farm in Buckeystown, Maryland  (Hedgeapple Farm) that fans say has the “best beef in town.”  It sounds like it would be well worth the drive (probably less than an hour) to check out this place…I’ll let you know....
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