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Never In My Wildest Dreams!

Never In My Wildest Dreams!

Mount Airy Real Estate by Maureen Nichols, REALTOR®
Team Bonnie and Maureen of RE/MAX Realty Plus

When I first started selling real estate in 1989, the office had a full time receptionist who took messages on pink message pads. From our landline or a phone booth, we called in during office hours to retrieve these messages. We entered listing data via teletype devices in three separate MLS systems so our Mount Airy listings would be seen by agents in all directions. I was young and very forward thinking back then. My dad was very “into” computers and tried to share his excitement with his kids, and maybe some of it rubbed off on me. But never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined where we are today with technology!! I could talk forever about how technology has changed throughout the past 35 years – but every single one of us has experienced the advances and has, at one time or another, thought: Never in my wildest dreams!

At a recent Realtor® Association meeting, Justin Matney of Quantum Loophole was our featured speaker. In addition to being a licensed Realtor®, Justin is the Director of Resource Integration at Quantum Loophole.

The Quantum Loophole Campus is over 2100 acres, located in Adamstown, at the former site of East Alcoa, the aluminum smelting plant. This campus is under 30 minutes from Mount Airy, and 20 miles from the Ashburn (VA) interconnection ecosystem. When Justin said approximately 90 percent of the world’s internet traffic travels through the data centers in Loudon County, Virginia, it boggled my mind. Not just America’s internet traffic, the entire world’s internet traffic.

So I thought: It’s a whirring, clanging, brightly-lit, energy-sucking data center in the middle of beautiful southwestern Frederick County – it’s a commercial behemoth with mountains to the west and a river to the south and gorgeous rolling farm fields many commuters from Mount Airy pass through every day. Surely better than a smelting plant, I thought, but it’s still a data center.

There is so much more to this story, however. I listened. Quantum Loophole is a developer of a first-one-of-its kind project – that will indeed be a data center – but one that is working toward building a planned data center community with a negative carbon footprint, with over 600 acres of nature reserve with stream and waterway protection, a wildlife corridor and more. Here is an excerpt from their website: “The Quantum Frederick project is based on efficient design for sustainable power and water use, investments in robust fiber connectivity, a nature-first design aesthetic to protect views and reduce visibility from public roadways, and includes thoughtful preservation of existing historic structures.”

Their 40+/- mile network is planned for the long run, for future generations. They will place more than 235,000 strands of fiber (this is mind-boggling, too!) in this network loop to connect the Frederick campus with Virginia. It’s incredible “stuff” – and it’s happening in our own backyard!

Check them out: https://quantumloophole.com/frederick-maryland/

Can Frederick County ever be ‘Montgomery County North’?

Can Frederick County ever be ‘Montgomery County North’?

By GARY BENNETT and HUGH GORDON, The Frederick News-Post

You hear the sentiment thrown around all the time: “If we don’t stop all of this development, Frederick’s going to become Montgomery County North.”

Hyperbole? Sure. But like a lot of things, if we don’t rely on facts, misinformation can take hold.

It makes a nice political sound bite and is easy to fall back on when we see traffic getting heavier and schools more crowded. We do have an infrastructure problem that will take real political will to solve.

The hard truth, however, is we still don’t have enough housing in this county to satisfy demand. That is irrefutable.

Experts and politicians from both sides say so. But not just that, ask the 20- and 30-year-olds around Frederick who would like to purchase a starter home but can’t. Ask the working parents about finding a reasonable rent that doesn’t take most of their paycheck.

Ask the 60- or 70-year-olds who want to downsize but can’t find anything to downsize into. The problem is real and the construction you see is Frederick County’s attempt to bring balance back to the housing market.

When comparing Frederick County with Montgomery County, here are some facts to consider.

SIZE

Montgomery County is huge. Frederick County has about 290,000 people; Montgomery County has nearly 1.1 million.

In geographic size, Frederick County is the largest in the state. We have a land mass of about 660 square miles. Montgomery County has about 493 square miles. Frederick County has a density of about 440 people per square mile while Montgomery County’s is about 2,100 people per square mile. It would take growth of biblical proportions for Frederick County to get anywhere near the density of Montgomery County.

GROWTH

Frederick and Montgomery counties are growing at comparable rates. Most growth in Montgomery County is concentrated in nine large cities or areas, including Bethesda and Silver Spring, which mostly border Washington, D.C. In Frederick County, most growth is centered in and around the city of Frederick, where infrastructure and transit options are strongest.

In Montgomery County, the growth in the larger cities near Washington, D.C., has been allowed to run together, giving it a feel of sprawl. In Frederick County, most municipalities have adopted slow-growth policies. Because of this and the open-space initiatives discussed below, there can be no running together of municipalities in Frederick County.

OPEN SPACE

In Frederick and Montgomery counties, large swaths of land must be kept perpetually rural because of Maryland’s agricultural reserve program. In fact, the northern part of Montgomery County is just as rural, if not more so, than Frederick County. One-third of Montgomery County, or 93,000 acres, has been designated as the Agricultural Reserve.

But Frederick County does a better job.

Its priority preservation program seeks to permanently preserve at least 160,000 acres of agricultural land and protect a total agricultural base of 200,000 acres as a rural reserve to support a diversity of agricultural practices.

When you add on land in programs like the conservation reserve enhancement program (CREP) and the Creek Releaf program, land protected in stream buffers and county parkland, the county aims to have over 200,000 of its 427,000 acres (47%) in some type of program that is or is intended to be protected against development.

The availability of adequate public facilities focuses planning and development on the municipalities of the county, chiefly the city of Frederick. Therefore, discussions shouldn’t center on maintaining the agricultural nature of the county that we all love — that is not going away—but rather should be focused on how we can best plan for development in the municipalities of the county.

MIGRATION

It is convenient to claim that large numbers of people from Montgomery County are moving to Frederick County every day to escape growth and taxes. Some of that is happening, but not as much as we think.

According to the 2020 American Community Survey, roughly 16,000 people migrated into Frederick County from 2016 to 2020. During this same time, about 14,100 migrated out, for a net gain of nearly 2,000. Would anybody have guessed this?

Of the 16,000 who migrated into Frederick County during this time, about 3,200, or 20% came from Montgomery County. But, 2,200 Frederick County residents migrated to Montgomery County during this time, for a net of about 1,000 people.

Yes, in-migration from Montgomery County is higher than for any other Maryland county, but it is certainly not an invasion. Interestingly, when you look at per capita inmigration, Carroll and Washington counties lead the way.

Editor’s note: Gary Bennett is a retired marketing executive. Hugh Gordon is the association executive for the Frederick County Association of Realtors and has decades of experience in the real estate world, including 24 years as a mortgage banker. They are longtime Frederick County residents and members of the Frederick County Affordable Housing Council.

Does Experience Matter?

Does experience matter?

Rhetorical question, of course, because in most professions, Yes! Experience Matters!

Buying & selling real estate is, for most of us, the biggest financial transaction(s) we will ever be a part of. It is “the” decision that will enable us to grow our wealth, “the” decision that will allow us to maintain our everyday life, and hopefully “the” decision that will allow us to retire in comfort. A place to call home is a privilege, but also a necessity. To own our own home is The American Dream.

Whether you’re a first time local buyer, a buyer coming in from outside the area, or the move-up or down-size multi-times buyer, help from an experienced, local professional is crucial. In today’s world of technology, it’s easy to do some research, figure out a home’s value, check out the area schools – but is that the “real” picture? Is that everything you need to know? A real estate professional who lives here and knows the area, who carries the experience of over 1500 transactions spanning 35 years, may be able to give you insights and information beyond the internet spin. Having a real person open the door to your biggest financial investment and hold your hand throughout the transaction is not only comforting, but priceless.

And if you’re selling your home, choosing a local professional with 35 years of experience, gives you access to an agent who understands transactional nuances. This is an agent who knows how markets shift, who knows pricing strategies and who has expertise in contract and contingency negotiation. An agent who knows both the buyer’s side and the seller’s side brings more experience to the table than an agent who specializes in either buyers or sellers. Staying local gives you proximity and access to your agent, their broker, and a brick & mortar building.

Bottom line: choosing an experienced, local agent will be the best decision you ever make when it comes to making sure the purchase or sale of your biggest asset is handled as such. This is our privilege – we love helping you!

The Rest of the Story!

In the May 2023 4 County Catch, the last paragraph of my article was inadvertently left out. You can read the entire article on 4 County Catch and you can read The Rest of The Story here!

I wrote about development vs open space: I think Mount Airy is in a unique position to make bargains that benefit the town. Whether it be through additional impact fees to developers to fund the additional needs of the town, or a request for developers to purchase land for the benefit of the town, or to not only give the land needed for a new police department building, but to build it too! We need the developers – there is a nationwide housing shortage – but we need adequate public facilities too.

I recently heard a developer, requesting approval from Frederick to develop land, was basically invited to GIVE the city approximately Two Thirds of the property in exchange for development rights on the rest of it. Crazy? No. This was serious negotiation. Doable? Sure! It boils down to higher density or an upgrade in zoning in exchange for a new school site and a public park.

CNN Business Headline in March 2023 read: “The US Housing Market is Short 6.5 Million Homes.” It’s not exactly 6.5M when you read the fine print, but here is another way to state it: Between 2012 and 2022, 15.6 Million new households were formed in the US and only 11.9
Housing Units were completed. Our population is growing – here, there, everywhere. We cannot turn a blind eye to our housing needs.

Since I moved to Mount Airy in 1989, every new development request was adamantly opposed – town and county folks demanding the town council stop growth with the same sentiment: Keep Mount Airy’s Small Town Charm! Village Gate, Twin Ridge, Summit Ridge, Twin Arch Crossing, Northtowne Court, Nottingham, Sterling Glen, and outside town: The Paddocks, Challedon and the one “we” won – Harrison Leishear (the debacle which Carroll County taxpayers have paid dearly for.) Is the voice “louder” today? Sure it is! The population count is much higher, so there are MORE people to speak up!

Here is what I find most worrisome: The median age in Mount Airy is 36 +/-. This means most of the population has not had to help their parents yet – they’re still working, in the family home. They also haven’t thought about where their children will live as adults, they’re deciding what college they’ll get into. Reality: Right now there are not enough homes for our elders to downsize to or our adult children to move into, let alone afford. This has to be addressed.

The Town Council Members are elected to serve the citizens of Mount Airy, but their higher calling is to serve the Town of Mount Airy and to do what is in the best interests of the town as a whole. Like it or not, like them or not, they must plan for growth.

Mount Airy is in a Unique Position

What I’m hearing at almost every town and county meeting, what I’m reading about in newspapers, magazines, blogs and social media posts, what I’m hearing from local real estate practitioners, business owners and residents – loud and clear, is one of the reasons we do not want more housing is because we do not have enough open space, not enough parkland, and most of all, not enough ball fields to accommodate the current need.

Team Bonnie and Maureen have a listing – 116 Acre Farm listed for sale with access off Woodville Road. This property abuts the Town of Mount Airy’s Property where the Town Well at the end of N Annapolis Drive and Windy Ridge Park are located. It is 116 Acres with approximately 30 acres of level, open land perfect for ball fields and a school; there is a house & barn site, 4 building rights and 64 acres in freshly planted and forever protected forest conservation. The asking price is 1.5 Million: 116 Acres in a Municipal Growth Path using a conservative current per acre value of $10,000 + 4 Building Rights at $50,000 each, a pricy milled Entry Road and Incalculable Water Rights and (future) Timber Rights more than support the ask. What a great acquisition this would be for The Town of Mount Airy and its residents. But, if the town cannot afford to purchase it, why not structure an exchange with a developer?

Mount Airy, in fact, owns less parkland than other like-size municipalities in Carroll and Frederick County – although to be fair, Mount Airy does have a lower tax rate. However, the current size of the town doesn’t provide adequate open space and ball fields for the demand, so there is little wonder why groups like CAMO and other concerned residents are standing up and adamantly opposing growth without adequate public facilities.

I think Mount Airy is in a unique position to make bargains that benefit the town. Whether it be through additional impact fees to developers to fund the additional needs of the town, or a request for developers to purchase land like the farm for the benefit of the town, or to not only give the land needed for a new police department building, but to build it too! It’s time we all thought outside the box for a Win-Win. We need the developers – there is, after all, a national and local housing shortage – but we need adequate public facilities too.

Mt. Airy Farm Land

Side Note/Full Disclosure: I am the listing agent for the farm described herein, meaning if sold, I will financially benefit. If I financially benefit, of course, so will the town, since I live here and I do buy as much as possible from local businesses and use local services!!

It is Winter in Mount Airy!

The beautiful fall colors have given way to colder days and the sound of geese headed south! The pumpkins are picked, the harvest is in and holiday shops are in full swing! Real Estate, however, naturally starts to slow down a bit while school is in session, when sports are in full swing and the holiday season has arrived. This year, interest rates have inched higher, housing prices are in the process of stabilizing and our past experience tells us, as hard as it might be for both buyers and sellers: This is a necessary and normal market adjustment period. But for 2023 – all will be well!

The question is: Is it really a good time to invest in real estate right now? My answer: YES! It is ALWAYS a good time to invest in real estate!! Whether you’re a first time homebuyer, a buyer moving up, relocating or down-sizing, a buyer looking for an investment property to rent or fix up and flip, the time to buy is NOW! With ample buyers in the marketplace in search of their first home, a move up home, a home to downsize to, a home to invest in, YES: Now is the right time to sell. The demand for Mount Airy housing remains strong!

This year we want to tell you again, Mount Airy, how much we appreciate your business and how much we look forward to serving your real estate needs in the years to come. We know we are blessed to live and work in such a desirable community. We are thankful for our wonderful clients, families and friends in the 4 County Mount Airy Area who come to us for all their real estate needs. We are always willing to help!

We wish all of you joy & happiness while you celebrate December and we wish you the same throughout the New Year. But most of all, we wish for peace.

Happy Thanksgiving Mount Airy

November in Mount Airy:

The beautiful fall colors are giving way to crisper days and the sound of geese headed south! The pumpkins are picked, the harvest is in! Real Estate naturally starts to slow down a bit as school is in session, sports are in full swing and the holiday season has arrived! This year, interest rates have inched higher, housing prices have stabilized and experience tells us: This is a necessary and normal market adjustment period.

The question is: Is it really a good time to invest in real estate right now? My answer: YES! It is ALWAYS a good time to invest in real estate!! Whether you’re a first time homebuyer, a buyer moving up, relocating or down-sizing, a buyer looking for an investment property to rent or fix up and flip, the time to buy is NOW! With ample buyers in the marketplace in search of their first home, a move up home, a home to downsize to, a home to invest in, YES: Now is the right time to sell. The demand for Mount Airy housing remains strong!

We give thanks to our clients, families and friends in the 4 County Mount Airy Area for all the real estate business you’ve given to Team Bonnie & Maureen! We look forward to sharing our abundance of experience with you whenever you have a real estate need! To get the nitty-gritty details about the current real estate market, Contact your LOCAL REALTORs®

Stirring Up a New Team Recipe!

For over thirty years, I have worked side by side with Bonnie Winkler – a Born & Raised Mount Airian! She has been a sister, a mother, my friend, my mentor and my business partner, my teammate. Bonnie is the wisest and most gracious person I’ve ever known and in her role as REALTOR® she is, quite simply, the best of the best. To say I have learned “much” about life and real estate from Bonnie over the past 30 years would be an understatement – she has been a phenomenal teacher, and I have been an excellent student: Oh! The lessons I’ve learned!

The most important lesson I learned, early on: Bonnie is always right!! She has declared the team more than ready, completely able and absolutely willing to carry on the tradition of taking care of All Your Real Estate Needs in the 4 County Mount Airy Area! So, short of stirring up a Witches Spell, there was no convincing Bonnie to renew her license. She just smiles and says “You and the team can take it from here.” So yes, it is with tears and gratitude that I must announce Bonnie Winkler is officially retiring in October. BUT – she still wants you all to call her! Her number is not changing (can I sneak it in here? 301-639-3939) and she still loves to talk about everything to everyone who shares her passion for Mount Airy!

Team Bonnie & Maureen will continue to work like magic – Go On and Give us a Howl!

What’s All The Quacking About?

If you’ve been following our articles in The Catch, our underlying message to everyone is to Shop Local, to use a Mount Airy REALTOR® when you’re ready to buy or sell a home in the area. Why? Because we know the area better, of course! But also because the majority of the income made by a local REALTOR® will stay right here in Mount Airy.

We believe this goes for charity, too. We all have our favorite causes near & dear and far & wide, but let’s try to make our Top Priority LOCAL! The Mount Airy Volunteer Fire Company and the Rotary of Mount Airy have teamed up once again (year 3!) to hold the Mount Airy Duck Race to raise funds for MOUNT AIRY! It’s a fun fundraiser, and the funds raised serve the Mount Airy Community. If you need more information about the race to be held on September 18th, 2022, or the incredible history of the Fire Company, check out the MAVFC website www.mavfc.org.

In the meantime, if the current Real Estate market is making you nervous and giving you a Quack Attack, Call Us! We will talk to you about what’s really happening with home values, interest rates and more. We are so fortunate to live in a community with solid footing when it comes to our real estate values and desirability. Even as it is stabilizing, our market continues to thrive!

As the market stabilizes, our Mount Airy residential inventory is still extremely low. The demand for Age-Restricted housing is at an All Time High. First Time Buyers are having a hard time finding an affordable place to start. BUT, Move-Up buyers – your time is NOW!

Whether you’re buying or selling in Mount Airy contact your LOCAL REALTOR®

It’s Time to Jump Right In!

Whether you’re ready to buy or sell real estate,

Now might be the perfect time to jump right in!

Yes, interest rates have risen a bit, but that has helped prices stabilize. Prices have not taken a nosedive, they are stabilizing. We are no longer experiencing multiple offers on every home we list and buyers have a bit more time to consider their purchase. Consider this a Win-Win market!

When we purchase a home, it is probably the biggest investment most of us will make in our lifetime. When we purchase it, we want to be sure it’s the right fit, in the right condition, a great location and valued at market. When we sell, we want a fair price and fair terms. This is the type of market where both buyers and sellers can get what they want.

Team Bonnie & Maureen have sold quite a few homes over the past five years to first time buyers who hoped they’d be in the position to move up after a few years of earning equity. They have definitely earned some equity!! But if they had to sell their home in order to purchase the
next, they could not compete against those who did not. Most did not even try – they decided to wait it out. We’re happy to report their wait is over – NOW is their time!!

Sellers, inventory is still low, demand is still solid – NOW is your time!! Take care of the prep work as every effort you make has immense value. If you’ve been delaying the sale of your home because the task seems overwhelming – call us in – REALTORS® are here to help and guide you every step of the way!

Whether you’re buying or selling in Mount Airy contact your LOCAL REALTOR®

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