In this Q & A, SouthBMore.com talks to real estate agent Jeff Washo of The Jeff Washo Team of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Realty about his background, real estate team and expertise, and love of Baltimore.
1). Tell us a little bit about your background and what brought you to Baltimore.
I was born and raised in Rochester, NY. (Penfield) and I attended University of Buffalo (NY) where I earned a Bachelors in Science and Environmental Engineering. I did consulting for an engineering firm for many years starting in Indianapolis, IN. I then received a job offer in Baltimore. After spending one weekend in Baltimore, I knew this city was the place for me. The city instantly grew on me and I’ve loved every minute of my choice to live here.
I’m married to a woman I met in Baltimore and we’ve lived in Federal Hill for 13 years now. This past year, we moved to Locust Point with our two babies, Blythe (22 months) and Jack (4 months). I’m one of four boys and my Mom and Dad have now retired near Southport, NC. Growing up, I’ve enjoyed all sports and I work out regularly. I still keep active in some local sports leagues in Fed Hill/Locust Point. When the weather breaks, I will again enjoy grabbing the dog and my daughter for a walk around Fort McHenry – love being outside!
2). How did you get into real estate?
I took the real estate course in 2002 when I was looking for my first house and I wanted to learn everything about the real estate buying process. I actually never imagined selling real estate as a career. I was going to try out the commercial side using my consulting knowledge of site assessments; however, a family friend of my brother’s from Penn State had mentioned that her father was a broker in residential sales. I met him and he convinced me to try residential. After a lot of deliberating and soul searching, I decided to go with it. As with anything I do, I want to be dedicated and give it my all and I went into this knowing that I would have to work extremely hard to be successful. The rest is history!
I continue to find myself very passionate about real estate. I try to learn on a daily basis so I can always be better informed for myself and for my clients.
3). Why should South Baltimore buyers use your team? What sets it apart?
Good question! Besides being well educated, professional and knowledgeable, I like to lead in selling real estate by example. I truly believe an agent should have bought and sold real estate themselves to truly understand the process. Everyone on my team either owns multiple properties, sold, or bought here in the local market. So, we fully understand the process and the local market extremely well.
I have a really good consultation for both sellers and buyers which I have constructed over 13 years. This makes the process educational and fun. I always start out saying, “There is no rush, no timetable. Let’s learn this market together.” Our team likes to educate the buyer.
Additionally, I’ve had a one-on-one real estate coach for 5 years and apply this knowledge and passion for the business every day. There is honestly nothing better than finding the buyer the perfect home. When they’re confident “it’s the right house” with our help and coaching, it just makes me feel really awesome.
4). Is there anything you don’t like about real estate sales?
Another good question. If we are not being challenged every day, we can’t grow. I think this business challenges us so this is where the problem lies. Unfortunately, anyone can get a license. So, I’ve seen a lot of good new agents but I’ve also I’ve seen quite a few agents out there who don’t practice my “lead by example” philosophy. Some are still renting and some agents just come into our market part-time. These folks make the whole process complicated for everyone. Look, if you don’t put a 100% into this business EVERY DAY you are just doing your buyers and sellers a disservice.
Not only do I think it is important to make this your full-time job and really give it all you have, it is just as important to build strong relationships with other agents and to know and understand the local market fully. My philosophy here is to communicate, understand, and always be professional – treat all agents respectfully. This goes a long way and helps in the sales process.
5). How do you help buyers find the right properties for them?
The most important part of working with buyers is listening to their needs. I have a really nice presentation that I like to share in the beginning. Then we have an open discussion about the market prior to ever even showing a house. I like to make the process educational, fun, and relaxed. I also want people to understand every step of the process as we go. After talking, listening, and seeing homes, it is nice to all get on the same page and, together, make informed decisions. My goal is to make you an expert before placing an offer.
6). How do you make sure buyers are getting the best price for the property they are interested in?
Negotiation is an important part of the real estate purchasing process, because just anyone can show a home! There are many different factors on each property (especially in this local South Baltimore market) that I pay close attention to in order to present the best offer for the buyer that will suit their needs and show the seller the value of our offer.
7). What do you do to help market the properties and ensure your sellers get the highest price?
Marketing a home is more than just putting it on the MLS sales system. As a local resident, after I walk the seller through the best ways to prepare their home for showings, I then advertise and place their listed home in the best local places with the most traffic from prospective buyers. I also provide a free consultation with a professional home stager as well as with a professional photographer.
8). What do you recommend sellers do to make sure their selling process is smooth?
To begin with, the seller and I discuss the process of selling their home in great detail. This provides knowledge of the market and sets expectations as the home selling process begins. Then the biggest factor is an open line of communication. This is key to a good, smooth process!
9). Does your team sell outside the city?
Yes, I would say a good majority of my sales come from friends and families leaving the city. I have educated myself on the surrounding counties and neighborhood markets – part of my ever-growing daily education. Not only do I have a lot of clients who I help in the county every day, I always have that county move stuck in the back of my head for my own self so I keep an eye peeled on the local county markets. Most of all, if you have to sell a house in the city to by up, it is always a really good idea to use a good city agent to help you sell that home while educating you in the upgrade process. We do this all the time – it’s a challenge and very delicate process.
10). Anything you want to say in closing?
Just that buying a house is a huge financial decision. One of the, if not the biggest, decision you will make. Why would you not interview someone with a successful track record in the real estate business to help you out before deciding who to use? Spend 20 minutes learning about what your potential agent has to offer you. I’m very flexible and always work around my clients needs, 7 days a week! Give me a call.
Contact Jeff Washo at 410-262-6256 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spring Cleaning Checklist
With spring selling season arriving, take the time now to polish your home to perfection.
1. Let the sun in. Make any room look brighter with clean blinds and windows. Mix a solution of one part white vinegar to eight parts water, plus a drop or two of liquid dishwashing liquid, for a green window cleaner. Spray on and wipe with newspaper to avoid streaks. (Washing on a cloudy day also reduces streaking.)
Showing tip: Replace heavy drapes with lightweight shears during warmer months to give a room a brighter, lighter feel for prospective buyers.
2. Sniff out smells. Check the drip tray underneath your refrigerator and wash out any standing water from defrosting. Remove inside odors by washing the inside of the fridge with a baking soda and water solution. Boil lemon juice in your microwave and add it to your dishwasher to eliminate bad smells. Also, put the lemon rinds down the disposal. Add activated charcoal in the fridge to keep odors at bay.
Showing tip: Make the fridge smell fresh instantly with cotton balls soaked in vanilla extract or orange juice.
3. Make your bed better. Vacuum mattresses and box springs, and then rotate and flip over. Do the same for removable furniture cushions. This is also a great time to wash or dry-clean the dust ruffle and mattress pad.
Showing tip: Add new loft to a lumpy comforter by having two people vigorously shake the quilt up and down to redistribute stuffing.
4. Clean those coils. Improve energy efficiency by vacuuming grates, coils, and condensers in your furnace, stove, and refrigerator (either underneath or in back). If a vacuum won’t reach, try a rag tied to a yardstick.
Showing tip: Shut some air conditioning vents on the first floor or basement so that more air will reach and cool the second floor. Reverse the process in winter for heat vents.
5. Wash the walls. Grease, smoke, and dust can adhere to walls and make even the best decorating look dingy. Wash walls using a general-purpose cleaner with hot water. Start at the top of the wall to avoid drips and in a corner so that you wash one wall at a time. Rinse the mop head frequently in clean water. And don’t press too hard because flat latex paint won’t absorb too much water.
Showing tip: Resist the temptation to spot-clean walls since it will make the rest of the wall look dingy.