Scott Smolen Blog

Oct. 31, 2017

A Cooldown in Housing? Not This Season

Autumn began in September, but activity in the housing market remained at summer-like levels through October, according to®’s latest data preview. Prices in October were 10 percent higher than those one year ago, with the national median at $275,000 and the national median age of inventory at 73 days.

“This month we aren’t just experiencing still-summery weather—we’re also seeing a sizzlingly competitive housing market at a time when things are usually cooling off for the fall,” says Danielle Hale, chief economist at “With not enough homes on the market to meet the high demand, homes are selling 8 percent more quickly than a year ago even though prices are as high as they’ve ever been.

“For potential buyers who waited until fall hoping to score a bargain, the pickings are disappointingly slim,” Hale says, “but one potential bright spot for market-fatigued buyers is that new listings are up slightly from one year ago. While new listings declined in the first four months of the year, they have increased on a year-over-year basis in five of the last six months.”

The housing markets ranking in’s Hotness Index for October:

San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.
Median Age of Inventory: 30 days

Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif.
Median Age of Inventory: 38 days

San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif.
Median Age of Inventory: 30 days

San Diego-Carlsbad, Calif.
Median Age of Inventory: 40 days

Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Mass.-N.H.
Median Age of Inventory: 46 days

Stockton-Lodi, Calif.
Median Age of Inventory: 41 days

Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, Calif.
Median Age of Inventory: 44 days

Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, Mich.
Median Age of Inventory: 47 days

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo.
Median Age of Inventory: 41 days

Modesto, Calif.
Median Age of Inventory: 43 days

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May 24, 2017

Rents Appreciating Faster in Suburbs as Demand Intensifies

Renters up against ballooning costs in sought-after cities have steadily spread outward for rent relief—but now, costs are climbing in areas outside of cities, too.

In fact, according to a recently released report by Zillow, rent appreciation is accelerating faster in suburban areas than urban ones, with the median rental cost in suburban areas up 2.5 percent year-over-year, while the median rental cost in urban areas is up 2.3 percent.

“Because walkable urban centers close to amenities are typically a big draw for renters, you’d expect rents to rise faster in the city than in the suburbs—which is exactly what we’ve been seeing until very recently,” says Dr. Svenja Gudell, chief economist at Zillow, “but a handful of factors are helping turn the tables and beginning to push suburban rents up at a higher clip. These include deteriorating rental affordability in expensive urban cores; new apartments, albeit high-end ones, opening downtown compared to relatively few in outlying areas; and preferences among some renters toward the space offered by single-family homes in the suburbs.”

The difference represents a shift from one year ago, when urban rental costs were up 5 percent year-over-year and suburban rental costs were up 3 percent. There are starker disparities in appreciation in in-demand urban areas and their suburban counterparts, including in Nashville, Tenn., and San Francisco, Calif.

“Rents themselves are still lower in the suburbs, but if demand keeps growing for suburban rentals and supply continues to lag, that will also start to change,” Gudell says. “As more formerly urban renters move to the suburbs in coming years, we’ll likely start seeing more apartment buildings and walkable amenities popping up in those communities.”



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May 15, 2017

First-Time Homebuyers Shell Out More for Upgrades

While first-time homebuyers are facing certain challenges entering the housing market, that doesn’t mean they aren’t spending on upgrades to the homes they end up owning.

According to a recent report by Houzz, first-time homebuyers in 2016 dropped more than ever on renovations, spending an average $33,800. Homeowners overall spent an average $60,400.

First-time homebuyers aren’t starting with small changes, either—in fact, many have taken on remodeling four rooms at once, including more involved projects like bathrooms and the kitchen. Most, as well, are focused on outfitting their new homes with smart home technology.

“Younger and cash-constrained first-time buyers are responding to the low inventory of affordable homes by purchasing properties that require more than just cosmetic upgrades,” said Nino Sitchinava, principal economist at Houzz, in a statement on the survey. “Not surprisingly, we are seeing their spend on home renovations increasing significantly in 2016 and expect this trend to continue through 2017.”

That lack of cash for a more expensive home could explain why first-time homebuyers rely more on credit cards to finance renovations than other homeowners, according to the survey. Ninety-one percent of homeowners overall fund renovations, at least partially, with cash. Eleven percent fund them by taking out a loan, mainly a home equity line of credit (HELOC).

First-timers are also having trouble keeping renovations within budget, with 47 percent of those surveyed reporting it challenging to stay out of the red. They are, however, willing to ask for help, being just as likely as other homeowners to hire a professional.

Source: Houzz

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May 12, 2017

Home-Buying Confidence Springs Back

Confidence in home-buying is springing back, with more buyers optimistic about their ability to move off the fence and into the market, according to the recently released Fannie Mae Home Purchase Sentiment Index® (HPSI) for April.

The HPSI bounced back 2.2 percentage points to 86.7 last month, up from 84.5 in March. Those surveyed for the Index who reported it being “a good time to buy a house” climbed 5 percentage points to 35 percent—but those who reported it being “a good time to sell” shifted 5 percentage points in the opposite direction, down to 26 percent.

“The Home Purchase Sentiment Index returned to its longer-term tread line after reclaiming ground lost last month,” says Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae. “Historically strong inflation-adjusted house price gains are tempering consumer sentiment, whereas consumer optimism regarding the ease of getting a mortgage reached a survey high.”

Those surveyed who believe home prices will rise inched up one percentage point to 45 percent. More of those surveyed believe mortgage rates will go down in the next 12 months, ticking up three percentage points to -57 percent.

On a wider level, just 13 percent of those surveyed reported that their earnings are “significantly higher” than one year ago. In many housing markets, incomes have yet to catch up to home prices.

Seventy-seven percent of those surveyed, however, are “not concerned about losing their job”—a sense of security that can be a prerequisite for home-buying or -selling.

“On balance, housing continues on a gradual track,” Duncan says.

Source: Fannie Mae

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May 12, 2017

Mortgage Rates Stay Within Range

Mortgage rates stayed within the 4 percent range this week, with the 30-year, fixed rate averaging 4.05 percent, according to Freddie Mac’s recently released Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®.) Rates rose above 4 percent following the presidential election in November, and have fluctuated since.

The 15-year, fixed rate, at the same time, averaged 3.29 percent, up from 3.27 percent the week prior, while the 5-year, Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable rate averaged 3.14 percent, up from 3.13 percent the week prior, according to the survey.

“The 10-year Treasury yield jumped eight basis points this week while the 30-year mortgage rate rose three basis points to 4.05 percent,” says Sean Becketti, chief economist at Freddie Mac. “Mixed economic reports over the last few weeks have anchored the 30-year mortgage rate around the 4 percent mark.”

Source: Freddie Mac

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Nov. 8, 2016

Want to Sell Your Home This Fall? Spruce it Up with These 3 Tips

Now that Labor Day is long gone, it’s truly time to get into the heart of the fall season. And if you’re trying to put your Gambrills MD home for sale in  this autumn, you’ve got to realize that it’s a very competitive time of year in Anne Arundel County. You have put a lot of love and a great deal of care into your house, and prospective buyers should be able to tell that you’ve treated your home like a member of the family. But as you move on to the next phase in your life, it’s important to keep in mind some of the things home buyers are looking for as they research properties in the region. After all, these buyers are starting new phases of their lives, as well, and with so many great options available from Crofton to Odenton and everywhere in between, it’s crucial that you assess the house for areas you can improve.

Thankfully, it’s possible to make some simple -- yet incredibly effective -- improvements that don’t cost an arm and a leg.

Let’s have a look at three low-cost methods of sprucing up your house to catch buyers’ eyes!

#1 -- Finish What You Started

If you’re like a lot of homeowners, you’ve gotten some great ideas over the years that, unfortunately, haven’t quite come to fruition. There are probably some home-improvement projects that you’ve begun, but just haven’t been able to complete. Now is the time to cross them off of your to-do list for good!

If you need to finish that bathroom reno or finally redo the kitchen pantry, now is the time to turn into the home stretch!

#2 -- Paint!

You’re accustomed to living in your home, and it’s comfortable to you the way it is. But there are probably numerous areas that could be made to look like new with just a few paint touch ups. Look over your home -- preferably with the help of someone with fresh eyes -- and determine which areas could use a fresh coat. Baseboards, trim and moldings are prime suspects. If your budget is really tight, focus on high-traffic areas.

#3 -- Don’t Make It Personal

In other words, it’s a good idea to depersonalize your home so that it’s easier for buyers to see themselves living there. Of course, a bit of personal charm can be a great selling point, but if it’s too dominant, it can turn people away. Go through photographs, children’s artwork and other items to determine what you can remove to make your house seem a little less like yours -- and a bit more like a place someone new can’t wait to move into!

Need More Help Selling Your Home?

If you’re selling your Anne Arundel County home this fall, you know that it’s a competitive environment. Thankfully, I’m here to help you with all the best tips to find you the perfect buyer! Give me a call at (301) 651-1261 or email me at to learn more.

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Nov. 1, 2016

Off to College -- Exploring the Excellent Options in Eastern Maryland

The crisp, cool fall weather signals the start of another school year, and for many parents in the region, it means sending a son or daughter off to college. Thankfully, this part of the country is extraordinarily fortunate to have a number of excellent colleges and universities located within very close proximity. People who own homes in Anne Arundel County and the surrounding areas value education highly, which is one of the reasons why it’s such a wonderful place to live. However, making the choice of the right college to attend can be tough, given so many great options.

Are you about to send a child off to college? It’ll help to have a rundown of the area schools and what makes them great!

University of Maryland

Located in College Park, Maryland, within Prince George’s County, The University of Maryland is just four miles from Washington D.C., making it incredibly convenient for those interested in government or research. And the University’s Terrapins provide excellent opportunities to experience competitive team sports all school year long.

University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC)

Located just eight miles from the city of Baltimore, UMBC is a smaller campus that features programs geared toward students studying natural sciences and engineering. It’s a tremendous alternative to the main University of Maryland experience.

Towson University

Commonly referred to as “TU,” Towson University, which is located in the community of Towson in Baltimore County, is often ranked highly among the best universities to receive a Master’s degree. It’s also been cited as a great value by numerous leading publications.

Salisbury University, McDaniel College and Bowie State

There are even more options for matriculating students in the area, including Salisbury University, a smaller school that is just west of Ocean City. McDaniel College is a tiny institution with less than 2,000 students, but with a terrific reputation. Bowie State, which is the oldest historically black university in the area, also offers an amazing collegiate experience (and is located virtually equidistant from Baltimore and Washington, D.C.).

Learn More

It’s hard to go wrong with a college education in this part of the country, given the abundance of wonderful universities and other institutions of higher learning located nearby. But making a choice can be incredibly difficult.

Let me give you a hand -- and allow me to assist you when it comes to finding the perfect home -- whether you are new here, or are looking for a change once your nest has become empty.

Just call (301) 651-1261 or send me an email at to learn more! I can’t wait to hear from you.


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Oct. 26, 2016

Experience the Magic of Autumn in Anne Arundel County

When people think late of October and the onset of autumn, they envision colorful leaves, cool yet comfortable temperatures, pumpkin patches and Halloween happenings, but this idealized picture of the fall season isn’t a reality in most places. However, as a new homeowner in Anne Arundel County, you will realize quickly that you’ve landed in a postcard setting that offers all of the wonderful aspects of this special time of year.

The leaves on the trees are reaching peak color and business at area pumpkin patches is in full swing. The temperatures are also becoming much more comfortable, cool and crisp. Life in Anne Arundel County is wonderful any time of year, but there’s something extra special about Autumn in this part of the country.

Are you wondering how you can get out and take advantage of the wonders of Autumn in your new community? We’ve got some great tips for you!

Pick the Perfect Pumpkin

Halloween is just days away, and there’s nothing like picking out a pumpkin and carving it to celebrate the season.

A number of area pumpkin patches offer families the chance to pick their own pumpkins, but that’s not all! Many local farms provide rides, corn mazes and a number of other recreational opportunities for all members of the family this time of year.

Visiting a pumpkin patch is also a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of daily living.

Some local favorites include:

Knightongale Farm
Greenstreet Gardens
Homestead Gardens
Lighthouse Shelter
Pumphrey’s Farm

Halloween Happenings

When Halloween approaches on the calendar, there’s a definite scare in the air! But it’s all in good fun here in Anne Arundel County.

Whether you plan on dressing up this year or not, there are a number of ways for you to get caught up in the excitement of the season without straying too far from home. The Halloween spirit is strong here, and with the holiday right around the corner, here are some of the attractions you should consider visiting:

Special Historic Hauntings Ghost Walk
Halloween Happening (At Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds)
Halloween Pet Parade

Learn More about Life in Anne Arundel County

Anne Arundel County is a great place to live, regardless of the season, and if you’re considering a move to this area, I’m here to help you! I know this special part of Maryland like the back of my hand, and I can’t wait to show you around and help you locate the perfect home for your family. Call me, Scott Smolen, today at (301) 651-1261 to learn more.

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Oct. 25, 2016

NFL Football Season in Anne Arundel County -- A Rivalry for the Ages

When autumn comes, it arrives carrying a number of well-known characteristics in its arms. The temperatures drop to become much more comfortable and cozy. The leaves on the trees change from green to the familiar oranges, yellows and reds, and kids are back in school. One of the other key signifiers of fall is the kickoff of the NFL football season, and for residents of Anne Arundel County, two teams dominate -- the Baltimore Ravens and the Washington Redskins.

The I-95 Football Rivalry

Are you a new resident of the area, or are you planning a move to the region? You should know that sports fans here take their football seriously! And when it comes to the professional game, there are two distinct teams to root for. But you’ve got to choose wisely because the two teams have a unique rivalry with fervent fans on either side.

For fans of the Washington Redskins and Baltimore Ravens, there are bigger rivalries. After all, the Ravens are in the AFC, while Washington plays in the NFC. As a result, the teams don’t play each other that often. Ravens fans are known for their intense dislike of divisional rival, Pittsburgh, while Redskins supporters look forward to beating the Cowboys and Giants. But when Washington and Baltimore play each other, there’s something about the proximity -- just 33 miles between the teams’ home stadiums on I-95 -- that gives the rivalry an added boost.

If you’re a football fan who is relocating to Anne Arundel County, there’s no doubt that you’ll be bringing your love of your favorite team with you. However, it’s good to put some effort into your decision of which local NFL franchise to root for.

Baltimore or Washington?

Baltimore has had more recent success, having won the championship as recently as 2013. But the team is fairly new, by National Football League standards; they used to be the Cleveland Browns, but the team moved to Baltimore and changed its name back in 1996, effectively becoming an expansion team.

Washington is one of the oldest, proudest franchises in the league, and its history includes some of the legends of the sport, including former coach Vince Lombardi, for whom the championship trophy is named. Unfortunately, the team hasn’t provided fans with much to feel good about in recent years.

Football Sundays in Anne Arundel County

Whether you lean more toward the Ravens or the Redskins, it’s good to make a choice so you know what side you stand on when these two giants battle on the gridiron. Football season is here, and if you’re planning on a move to the region, you also have to make an important choice about where you and your family will live!

Let me help you! I know this area extremely well, and I can make the process of finding your ideal home easy. Just give me a call at (301) 651-1261, or email me at to find out how I can take you to the house (of your dreams)!



Posted in Uncategorized
Oct. 18, 2016

Finding Paradise in Piney Orchard

Odenton, Maryland is fast becoming one of the prime locations for area families to live, work and play. Its ideal location makes it a wonderful community for families whose members work in Baltimore, Washington, D.C. and Fort Meade, home to the National Security Agency (NSA). But it’s also a terrific town in its own right!

Once a farming settlement, Odenton transformed with the installation of Fort Meade, which is just 20 miles away. The location of such a key US Army installation nearby necessitated growth and development, which goes on to this day. As a result, Odenton continues to grow and develop. Thankfully, Odenton is aware of its status as one of the best places to live in Maryland for those who work in the greater region, and its planners have created some wonderful developments for families who want to experience a safe, comfortable and fulfilling life.

One such development in Odenton is the lovely and amazing Piney Orchard.


Get to Know Piney Orchard

Piney Orchard is the largest planned community within central Maryland’s Anne Arundel County, with a variety of home types available for those who are new to the area -- and those area residents who simply want a change of pace. With nearly 4,000 condominiums, single-family homes and townhouses, it’s the ideal community for those seeking a nice, easy commute to and from Fort Meade, Washington, D.C., or Baltimore.

Piney Orchard provides the ideal place to live for homeowners who want a great commute, but it also features a wide range of amenities to serve its residents, including:

  • The Piney Orchard Ice Arena
  • Patuxent Research Refuge/National Wildlife Visitor Center
  • Odenton Park Recreation Area
  • Waugh Chapel Towne Centre (featuring shopping, movies and much more!)


Getting Away from it All in Piney Orchard

Amazingly, even though Piney Orchard gives residents such easy, instant access to the big cities and installations that power the region, it serves as an oasis of sorts to the people who live there, as well as its visitors. The community is filled with numerous green spaces to enjoy year-round, as well as a network of walking and biking trails for those who want to stay fit and enjoy the fresh air. There are also community centers and pools with all the amenities to satisfy those hardworking residents who need a refreshing break from the hustle and bustle of daily life.


Learn More About Life in Piney Orchard

To really get a sense of what life in Piney Orchard will be like for you and your family, you’ve got to come visit and see for yourself.

Let me show you around and help you find your dream home!


Call me at (301) 651-1261 or send me an email at to learn more! I’m looking forward to showing you exactly why Piney Orchard has the best homes for sale in Odenton to buy your new home!

Posted in Homes in Odenton