Everything you need to know about buying, selling and owning a home in Baltimore.
agents you should know
Last winter, when Baltimore confronted its first major snow storm, The Dorsey Campbell Group of Cummings and Company Realtors were unfazed, trudging through the elements to keep a scheduled home inspection. This attention to detail—and dedication—are what distinguishes realtors Dorsey Campbell, Liz Boyce, and Michael Wilcox.
Says Dorsey, “With all our listings...we want to be involved with every aspect of the transaction... We are part of every conversation and correspondence.”
As a result, the Dorsey Campbell Group has developed real industry knowledge, not only through the transactions themselves but of the market they serve. Through their personal and professional lives, they have developed a comprehensive understanding of Baltimore and can serve clients anywhere in and around the city. Often this means knowing what is coming on the market even before it is listed.
As a resource to sellers and buyers alike, they advise, “Price is the most important factor.” A well-appointed, tidy house can also accelerate a sale. Simple fixes like fresh paint, clean windows and organized spaces set a home apart, while general maintenance highlights how well it has been maintained. Despite the popularity of HGTV home improvement shows, they notice more and more buyers looking for the finished product rather than the never-ending fixer upper.
Regardless of your taste, however, Liz believes the best home, her “dream house,” is one “filled with friends, family and laughter…and hopefully clean nooks and crannies!”
Clients know that partnering with the Dorsey Campbell Group promises just that—a dedicated team with loyalty, a sense of humor and a vision for the perfect home.
If you’re lucky enough to take a real estate ride with longtime real estate agent Whit Harvey, you’re in for a treat. As you dart from one street to the next, you’ll receive a history lesson in Baltimore home ownership.
“That’s Jim Rouse’s old house,” he said as he drove through one Baltimore neighborhood pointing out houses. “Henry Knott raised something like 13 children in that house,” he noted, pointing out another. “That one belonged to my high school wrestling coach,” he offered. “I hear it’s coming back on the market.”
The native Baltimorean, with 35 years of experience in local real estate, brings that kind of market memory to his role as the head of The Whit Harvey Group with Coldwell Banker Real Estate Brokerage. As a member of a large, old Baltimore family (the legendary Harvey family Thanksgivings number over 100), the gregarious, fun-loving, natural born salesman knows more than most about the history, context and the comings and goings of the local real estate market.
For buyers, that means he often knows before others which houses will come on the market. For sellers, he has access to a vast circle of friends and relations who can bring a buyer to the table.
With ties such as these, he must keep his information close to the vest. “Some people don’t want the attention. They want their homes sold quietly,” he said. He does just that, often selling his listings through word-of-mouth be- fore they officially go on the market.
It’s that kind of discretion that has made him a trusted agent and helped him build the relationships that make up what he considers to be the best part of his job.
“My clients are my friends,” he said. “I like that.”
He makes sure those friends in the seller’s market pay attention to what he believes to be the two most important elements for a successful sale: price and presentation.
Whit requires a walkthrough with clients to identify small improvements for the best return on investment. A coat of paint, de-cluttering and a few other simple steps can make the difference between a house selling quickly and sitting on the market. He also offers the services of a professional photographer, a marketing specialist, and a stager for best results.
For those in the buyer’s market, he gives this Whitticism: If you can skip the first house and buy something that you can be in for 15 to 20 years, you can build on improvements over time and ultimately be better off.
His experience, contacts, and easy way with clients combined with his passion for houses has made a career in residential real estate the perfect fit for Whit, and it shows. He and his wife recently bought another house (his fourth) and are undergoing a massive renovation project. He understands the spell houses can have, and he encourages his buyers to go for it.
“Life is not a dress rehearsal,” he proffered. “Get something that truly makes you happy. Be ready and when you feel it, buy it.” And when you do, Whit will be there to make sure you get it right.
When it comes to selling houses, there are those who are drawn to the business and those who are attracted to the homes. For LAURIE KARLL, of The Laurie Karll Vision Group of Keller Williams Legacy, it’s both.
The Baltimore-bred daughter of a real estate developer and an interior designer, Laurie’s exposure to the housing market started early. As a result, she developed a practical knowledge of the market, mixed with a passion for home design. It’s a unique point of view that makes her stand out in a crowded field.
“I bring resources to my clients and a perspective or ‘eye’ that other agents don’t have,” she noted. It’s this savant-like understanding that gives her clients an edge, especially when it comes to reading the market. “I advise my clients to move quickly,” she said of today’s seller’s market. “Buyers want to be able to take their time, bring in their family or maybe their contractor, and we may not always have that luxury in a hot market. Lengthier due-diligence visits may need to occur after we are under contract.”
Laurie also renovates homes and condos and owns several multi-family properties as an investor. And with her previous experience as a nurse-midwife, the Columbia University grad has cultivated a sensitivity to homebuyers’ needs as well as a unique ability to advise her sellers.
“If the buyer is older, for example, then we want to make sure that there’s a full bath on the main level so that they have the potential to age in place,” she said. “If it’s a family with children, we focus on homes that have a nice, level playing yard.”
Whatever your needs, Laurie and her team will guide your buying or selling with an unrivaled combination of business savvy and finesse.
Kim Roberts is that rare salesperson who both loves and excels in the trans- actional side of real estate. Detail oriented, “I love spreadsheets,” she laughs.
Her ability to keep things on track is a major factor in the unique strength of this team. A licensed agent for more than 10 years, she has also recently taken on the role of transaction manager for the Whit Harvey Group.
Once a sale is made, Kim is the link between the client and all the moving parts. “Real estate is very time sensitive. My job is to get everything done on time. In that way, I’m a bulldog.”
What she likes about being on the Whit Harvey team is “our genuine commitment to going that extra mile to provide service. There are so many things that a buyer — particularly a first-time buyer — may not be aware of. Just yesterday, by tracking down a seller’s title insurance policy, I was able to get our buyer a significantly reduced rate on their own policy. Not every realtor will get that involved. That’s the kind of thing I mean.”
When not at work, Kim is very involved with her church. She and her husband have just downsized to a homestead in rural Pennsylvania, where she has a vegetable garden and raises chickens and ducks, while aspiring to bees, goats, and sheep.
For local agents Lisa Hardiman and Bonnie Markell, discovering their clients’ reasons for buying or selling a home is essential to their job and the process begins a relationship with clients that often lasts through many milestones of their lives. Both agents were hooked on real estate early. Bonnie’s career began in 1969 when she purchased her first home in Federal Hill. She spent 25 years buying and selling homes until she became a fully licensed agent in 1989.
Lisa started her career with her weekly perusal of the Baltimore Sun’s Open House section. Like a budding agent, she matched listed houses with friends in the market. Soon, she and Bonnie were a team.
Today, their motto, “Whether coming or going, we have the keys,” underscores the level of personal service they provide, beginning long before a house goes on the market.
Lisa and Bonnie feel privileged to have worked with generations of clients. They find that younger clients increasingly recognize a home's potential. They enjoy working with them and have no plans to slow down. “Being a realtor has no age limits. As long as you love it and have fun doing it, there is no reason to slow down.”
Born in Peru and raised in Brazil, Claudia O'Hara finished her education in the U.S., married a Baltimorean, and has been residing in Lutherville for more than 20 years. This global background has given her a unique perspective and an innate ability to advise her growing clientele on change and the challenges of moving.
Claudia and her husband negotiated the purchase of their first home directly with the seller, and despite the complexities of residential real estate transactions, she found her passion. Juggling four young children, she earned her real estate license and put her boundless energy to work.
She has now developed a team of professionals who understand that neighborhoods, schools, entertainment, and sports are equally important to finding the perfect house. Claudia’s open-minded approach and commonality with people from varying backgrounds and stages of life ensure that not only will she help her clients find the perfect home, she will also develop relationships that continue.
They say real estate is all about location, but Claudia knows it is also about trust and a partnership between client and agent. Claudia thinks strategically about her business — keeping pace with her clientele, anticipating market changes, and promoting teamwork to deliver success. Able to represent both buyers and sellers with equal finesse, Claudia will work tirelessly for her clients’ happiness.
The Conklin Merbler Team
Cindy Conklin and Bob Merbler are a husband and wife real estate team who have lived and worked in Federal Hill for the past three decades. With ties that go deep into the community, they are often the first call made by those selling or buying a home in the downtown Baltimore area.
“Bob and I have really enjoyed engaging with our community through the years, Bob, as a board member of the Federal Hill Neighborhood Association, and I, serving as the Commissioner for CHAP” (the Commission for Historic and Architectural Preservation, whose historic tax-credit program has been instrumental in revitalizing many downtown neighborhoods). Bob’s background in commercial real estate adds another dimension to their
effectiveness as a team.
According to Bob, “75 percent of our business is referrals, or previous clients moving for a job, larger space, etc. Many are first-time buyers in Maryland, who have been through the process elsewhere and need help with the local market.” Although each client has different priorities, Cindy and Bob find that their advice is often the same. “For sellers, pricing correctly is everything,” says Bob. “Condition and location play into it, but most important is a realistic understanding of the market by the seller. It is really an area of expertise for us and, I think, the primary asset that we bring to the table.”