New MLS – what does it mean to buyers and sellers?

We have a new MLS – Multiple Listing Service – in the Maryland-DC-Virginia area. Actually, it is a huge database, covering Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, D.C, and West Virginia. Most agents aren’t licensed to sell real estate in all those areas, so this doesn’t mean we can automatically practice our business everywhere.

However, there are some excellent new features that should make buyers and sellers happy, not to mention their agents! First benefit for me is that we can add more than 30 photos – that was our old limit. Another excellent feature is the ability to write descriptions in plain English – before we had a 400 character limit, which included punctuation and spaces, to describe a property. That lead to horrible descriptions like “3br 2ba, sgd 2 deck frm dr.” Now we are free to write “3 bedrooms and 2 full baths, plus sliding glass doors to the deck from the dining room.” We have 4,000 characters available to us! I’m in sheer heaven!

There are still some glitches, as they try to combine all these different MLS’s. I can’t search – yet – for all the homes in a specific municipality, like Cheverly. I’ve already requested the field be added, since it is available to us in the tax records. Should be an easy fix.

The biggest change – and it will affect everyone – is how we define the number of days a home is on the market. In the past, as soon as a contract was accepted, the MLS stopped counting the number of days the property was available, even when there were contingencies to be met. It wasn’t unusual to see a house that was only on the market for 2 or 3 days. Now we have a new category – ACTIVE UNDER CONTRACT – and the count doesn’t stop. This means that buyers can still make appointments to see a house that is in this status, and on all those ancillary sites like Zillow and, they will still show as Active.

As a result, it will look like it is taking houses longer to sell. That’s not necessarily the case, but after a while, we won’t notice the change.

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Shifting market?

In the past 30 days, we’ve seen a shift in activity that indicates a slowing market. The question to ask – is this temporary, seasonal, or just the normal ebb and flow of markets in general? No markets keep steaming forward indefinitely. Sometimes they slow their step, take a breath, and then steam forward again and sometimes they slow for a more extended period. My suspicion is that it’s the latter this time as we are about due for a shift to a more balanced marketplace.

Today, we have 17 houses on the market in Cheverly – more at one time than we’ve had since July 2017. You can see by the charts below how different this year’s market looks from last year. (Note that November 2018 only represents 4 days.)

Here are just the past 30 days of activity in Cheverly:

  • 14 new listings – that’s a lot of new listings, particularly going into Thanksgiving
  •  2 back on the market – we are seeing more contracts fall through
  • 6 price reductions – price reductions are a harbinger of a slowing market.
  • 6 under contract – but as I mentioned, 2 came back on the market. The number of homes going under contract has slowed while inventory has risen.

Only time will tell if this slow-down is temporary. But 14 new listings since October 1st and only 2 under contract in the same time is represents a definite shift. Our real estate news feeds are full of articles about how to deal with a slowing market, so it’s obvious that it is being felt in other marketplaces as well.

As you can see, I track the Cheverly market closely!

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Helpful Data for Appealing Your Tax Assessment – Part 4 of 4

Here is the data to find your comparable sales. Part 1 of this series will give you an idea of how to use this data, but if you are confused or want further advice, call the Department of Assessments. They are very helpful and really want your assessment to be right!

Prince George's County
Department of Assessments and Taxation
Maryland Department of Assessments & Taxation
14735 Main Street, Courthouse
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772
301-952-2500 (phone)
301-952-2955 (fax)

To find out if you are protected by the Homestead Tax Credit, go to and scroll to the bottom. You do not qualify if the house is not your principle residence. If you want to see if the credit was applied on your current bill, go to

The Excel spreadsheet with all MLS sales in 2017, sorted by sold price:

Detail of each sale – Updated 1/21/18 Updated Cheverly sales detail description

Same info, all updated 1/21/18, sorted by:

Other articles in this series:

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Appealing Your Tax Assessment – Part 3 of 4

A little about the Homestead Tax Credit:

From SDAT: “To help homeowners deal with large assessment increases on their principal residence, state law has established the Homestead Property Tax Credit. The Homestead Credit limits the increase in taxable assessments each year to a fixed percentage.”

If you feel your assessed value is too high, but decide not to appeal, particularly if you are protected by the Homestead Tax Credit, that is your choice. However, if you think you might sell within the next 3 years, it might still be worth appealing as your buyer will have to qualify on the full amount of the tax payment. Buyers don’t get the protection of the tax credit until they’ve been in the house for a year.

The Homestead Tax Credit does not affect your assessed value. It affects your payment. You may appeal your assessed value and still not see a marked reduction in payment because of the cap that is in place due to the tax credit. And even though you just got the assessment letter, you won’t know what the actual tax bill will be until July.

For example, if your home assessed at $400,000 and you think it is only worth $300,000, you might choose to appeal. However, if you already are protected by the Homestead Tax Credit, your actual payment might not change by much. BUT – if you sell, then the buyer has to qualify on the full tax payment for that $400,000. So even if it doesn’t change your payment, it is still worth challenging.

To find out if you are protected by the Homestead Tax Credit, go to and scroll to the bottom. You do not qualify if the house is not your principle residence. If you want to see if the credit was applied on your current bill, go to

More in this series:

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Should I Appeal my Assessment – Part 2 of 4

This is a series about filing an appeal for your property tax assessment. The information is generally good for all of Prince George’s County, but the data is specific for Cheverly (part 4 of this series).

From a neighbor who filed and got her worksheet:

“I got our house worksheet for the appeal, but didn’t understand a bunch of the coding and numbers on it.  So I called and spoke with Maureen Wilson at the Assessment Office – she is the one who actually  handles all of the appeals paperwork.  She spent a lot of time on the phone with me – though I’m still not sure of how some things are computed.

But the most important piece of advice was to come to our appeal meeting with the sales comps on all the Cape Cod 3bd/2bth/unfinished basements built about the time our house was.   She said to subtract out the flips and distressed sales.   And Voila!!! I pulled up your spreadsheet and sorted it on those items, and I’m all set to go to our hearing.  You saved me a bunch of time  (and it seems like we should get our assessment reduced!)   – Thank you , Thank you, Thank you!

  • Even if you don’t want to do an appeal, you might want to get the worksheet anyway – My assessment has a 12′ x 16′ deck on the house, which doesn’t (and never did) exist.  I’ve been paying for that ever since we moved in 19 years ago.
  • Pay attention to the two  areas where the house (Section 1)  and garage (Section 11) are rated for quality.  A 3 is Average, and your garage will be rated the same as the house unless you appeal.  If your house is more ‘original’ than ‘updated’ or ‘remodeled’, then your Quality might be more of a 2 – Poor, than a 3-Average.  You might consider going for a 2 rating on the house if you have water issues in the basement.
  • Measurements for both the garage and (in our case) brick trim, are supposed to be the square footage and will be listed under Size/Units.
  • The Curtilage code (Section 1) supposedly has to do with agricultural properties, and the code there should not have any impact on your assessment.
  • A Cape Cod is listed as 1.5 Story with Basement in Section 2.  The basement is considered unfinished, UNLESS there is an additional entry in Section 5 called Basement Room with additional square footage.”

More in this series:

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