Dear PoPville – Looking for Realtor Recommendations?

Photo by PoPville flickr user Mr. T in DC

Dear PoPville,

I am looking to find a realtor that works with first time buyers and hoping someone in PoPville has a recommendation. I would have a small budget (around $150,000), but am very flexible on location. Ideally, I would like to buy a one bedroom condo in a early transitional neighborhood (taking recommendations on those, too). I know my budget is small for the DC area, but I am willing to take a risk and hopefully have a great ROI in 5 or so years.

91 Comment

  • Nobody. Use Redfin and save yourself some money.

    • ummm – see below comments – the buyer doesn’t pay the broker’s fee….

      • Yes, but why couldn’t that still result in savings for the buyer? For example, if the buyer saves the seller from paying $2000 in fees because they did not have an agent, why couldn’t they negotiate with the seller and have them knock $1000 off the final price? Everyone wins.

        • One problem with this strategy is that the typical arrangement is that the seller’s agent charges 6% (or whatever, now that there is some room for negotation) and then the buyer’s agent gets half of that. If there’s no buyer’s agent, the seller’s agent gets the whole 6%. So you don’t just have to convince the seller this is a good deal, you have to convince the seller’s agent to change the terms of their contract with the seller and take less than they could. There are still scenarios where everyone wins and I have seen agents do this, but it’s not as simple as many of the commenters are assuming.

  • The man has a point. For $150k, you can’t afford brokers’ fees.

    • How rude of you!!!

    • The seller pays the fees for both his/her own agent and the buyer’s agent.

      Unless the buyer is looking at “for sale by owner”-type properties, having a buyer’s agent shouldn’t cost the buyer anything extra.

    • Redfin won’t participate in transactions less than $200k. With a $150k budget, you should find the place using the Redfin database, and then see if the seller’s agent would be your agent as well, or see if another realtor will cut out some of their commission since they didn’t have to do the work of finding places for you. $150k is pretty small, so I’m not sure many high demand realtors would take you….the seller’s agent might be the best bet.

      • Redfin WILL participate on transactions under 200K. They have ‘partner agents’ who are not Redfin employees, but agent who will work with you, and issue you a credit.

  • Ed Carp – featured all over the blogosphere for the Tilden St. renovation was my realtor and I LOVE him. Great guy, has an eye out for “interesting” spaces and gives good, blunt advice.

    Redfin is also a great system to save money but, as a first time homebuyer, I found that they were a little too distant to be helpful and walk me through the process. Useful for seeing houses, not so useful for actually going through the purchase process, finding mortgagers, recommending handymen, etc – basically all the little things that go into the purchase and which first time buyers need handholding for.

    • I agree – exactly who I was going to recommend! He was really great @ helping my wife & I buy our first house. He took the time to introduce us to different neighborhoods since we weren’t yet familiar with most parts of DC. He’s very hands-on in explaining different parts of the buying process and available if you have questions or concerns.

      • I second this. I spoke with him in passing for 10 minutes, and he told me to look at the condo I ended up buying. He was right on the money.

  • $150,000?! That’s not going to buy you anything… I mean, honestly, you will maybe be able to find a studio in SE but even then, I would severely doubt it. Wait until you have a better budget.

  • I would recommend Brian Sink who helped us find our house in Eckington in 2009. He is very familiar with NE generally, which may fit your price range.

  • Jennifer Myers We used her 4 years ago when our neighborhood was “transitioning” and she’s also helped some of our friends purchase in Trinidad – where in fact, you can buy a condo for pretty cheap.

    • I agree about using Jennifer Myers We used her earlier this year in buying a place and went above and beyond to help us deal with a difficult seller. She walked us through everything and never was to busy to answer any questions we had as first time buyers. She is the best!

    • Agree with earlier comments – Jennifer Meyers is awesome! She helped me and my husband purchase our first home a few months ago, and the whole process was excellent. I would recommend her to all of my friends, and I’d go with her again if we ever sell!

  • For those people in this feed are making rude comments about the $150K price — My guess is you were a 1st time homebuyer at some point too. Give this guy/gal a break and layoff. I think it is wonderful that he/she is looking into buying his/her first home. Good luck you you!

    • Yeah, and the $150k budget isn’t impossible to work with. It will undoubtedly be in a neighborhood most of us wouldn’t be comfortable living in, and will probably be a unit that needs a lot of work, but I assume this person has considered the risks and is comfortable with them.

      • I was looking at places slightly higher than your price range ($180K)- and my Realtor Ati Williams at DC Home Buzz was incredibly helpful. Aside from helping me manipulate the horrors of HPAP, she pointed out some other incentives that I would qualify for.

  • We loved our realtor, Matt Zannolli. Highly recommended–listened to our needs and desires, flexible scheduling, very responsive. He had partnerships with great inspectors etc. but didn’t overly push us into using them, and was a great negotiator with the sellers. He definitely did a lot of work for us and of course closing costs were higher for the sellers to pay his fee, but he earned it.

    $150k sure is low for this city, though…

    • I second the nomination on Matt Zanolli. He very tactfully saved me from what could have been a self-inflicted disaster when I was buying my first house in DC. Matt represents a lot of buyers, and really takes the time to work with his clients and learn what they are looking for. He knows the DC market and is an effective negotiator. I highly recommend him.

  • I bought my first place in DC 2 yrs ago, for under 160k in NW DC. Don’t let ppl discourage you. Do your own research, become obsessed with redfin and all other listing services. Be patient and diligent. good luck!!

  • I used Rebecca Israel, and she was so terrific and wonderful I can’t do her justice. I was a first-time buyer as well and had no idea what I was doing. She knows her stuff and is good at the hand-holding I needed.

    Here is a link:

  • there is a co-op apartment in petworth for $145K.

    When I was last looking I used to give me a list of properties in my price range. You input DC and put in your max at 150K. I just did that and saw nine pages of listings.

  • I would highly recommend Eric North with Tilton Bernstein Walsh Realty, he is great with first time home buyers.

  • Colin Storm of The Ramsbury Group – (ramsburygroup dot com)

    EXCELLENT attentive service especially for first time buyers – and he really knows the District – he’ll find you what you want and will likely be flexible on his commission – office is near Dupont Circle. Good luck!

    BTW – I bought a completely renovated rowhouse in 2009 for $155,000 at H & 19th NE

  • jim_ed

    Jesus Christ. There are PLENTY of places in this city for around 150k for a 1-br condo. If I was single, my budget would be probably about the same.

    We used Jaime Finch at Keller Williams. We were 1st time buyers as well, and him and his partner David were incredibly patient and helpful with helping us buy our home.

    As far as ROI, don’t expect a whole lot on a condo in 5 years, especially on something in the price range. Unless you hit the geography lottery and they build a surprise metro station across the street, you’re not likely to see a huge gain.

    That being said, here’s a unit for sale right next to a house we tried to buy. Its been on the market forever, but its a nice neighborhood, probably worth checking out:

  • I found that homedatabase dot com is a very helpful site. You can input Washington DC and the max you will pay and it will give you all the properties that meet that criteria. In just looking at your price range there were 9 pages of listing for properties under 150k. One in petworth for 145K.

  • I echo the no-realtor rec on the buy side: (a) You can’t afford it. (b) Doing it yourself is not that hard.

    Basically, these are the steps: * Find a place you like and go to the open house, etc. to kick the tires, so to speak, without a realtor. Just stay on Redfin and make the calls to seller’s agent yourself if there’s no open house. * When you’re ready to make an offer on a place you like, call the seller’s agent and ask for a copy of the standard form contract so that you can submit a bid. (Refuse all offers to be represented by seller’s agent, btw.) For properties in your range, they should be happy to give the contract to you, just to end the work on a low commission. * Review that standard form and check the boxes that matter to you (inspection clause, closing date, etc.) and put your price offer in. * Then be prepared to negotiate down to the last few hundred bucks over a series of several emails/calls. * Ask your friends for recs on a good mortgage lender, title company, and home inspector. Pick the ones you like. * Ride them to actually do their job between contract and closing.

    Really, it’s not that hard for a literate, dilligent person. You have like 6 weeks to accomplish this. I really recommend to all buyers that they read the joint FTC/DOJ report on realtors from a few years ago. It really is pretty informative about the role of realtors and the home-buying process.

    And as to the budget/unaffordability of a realtor for you: ANY place in your budget that you need a realtor to help you secure with careful contract crafting, etc. is going to be bid up out of your range, anyway.

    • …except the buyer doesn’t pay the realtor. It is definitely worth having your own as a first time buyer since it doesn’t cost you anything.

      • +1 and duh!

        clearly too many posters who have never bought a house …

      • This is a naive assertion when you get to nuts & bolts of it all. Here’s my simplified view: the only person putting money into the transaction is the buyer. If the seller doesn’t have to pay agent’s fee for the buyer’s side from the proceeds of the sale, that’s money that stays in the transaction between the two parties, as opposed to going to a third-party agent. So let’s say I’m an unrepresented buyer, and I offer 150k to the seller. The reality is that the seller will pay his agent 3% of that, a few fees that we’ll ignore, and keep the rest — 97% of the purchase price. As compared to another 150k offer from a represented buyer, in which the seller has to turn around and pay 3% to his agent, 3% to the buyer’s agent, he takes home less — 94% of the purchase price. The net effect to me as a buyer, at least theoretically, is that I can make a lower offer that the seller rationally should prefer or treat as equally attractive. As long as the seller takes home 94.01% of the purchase price or more, my lower offer is better than that of a represented buyer offering the same purchase price. Net result: I can pay less w/o an agent.

        Since the +1 to the comment implies that I’ve never bought a house, I’ll correct that: I’ve bought multiple houses. Without an agent in any instance. And I’ve negotiated lower prices on exactly this logic: because ultimately no one was going to pay an agent representing me, the net price the seller was willing to accept from me was lower, and I saved thousands.

        • Nice work buddy, I like your style. I’ve always been a fan of hitting the streets and doing the legwork myself; that’s how I’ve found amazing, underpriced rentals in both NYC (land of the broker-scum) and DC.

          Any readings you would recommend to learn more about the nuts & bolts of the contract, inspection clause, closing date, mortgage lender, title companies, etc?

          • Seriously, the FTC/DOJ report really opened my eyes ( . On the rest of it, just ask people you know who liked the title company and mortgage lender. Post-contract, the lender and title company do all the work, with a notable exception that you have an inspection clause and an inspection problem … that can get tricky. Just ride those people — you ARE paying them. And for the offer, just get a blank DC-form offer sheet. At least in MD, it’s literally a multi-page, check-the-box/fill-in-the-blank deal: read it carefully, and decide what matters to you. All of it is standard language, and you can choose your negotiation position (though I’d suggest the lowest straight-face offer tack). And if a seller’s agent won’t give it to you blank, make a copy of a friend’s and get some wite-out.

        • Doesn’t work that way. I am selling my home. I agree to pay the listing agent 6% and he agrees to pay the buyer’s broker 3%. So if there is no buyer’s broker, he gets the entire 6%. This is the standard way in DC.

          • It’s standard because it’s unchallenged. While true that the buyer has no standing to disrupt a contractual relationship between seller and agent, you can simply put the agent to the choice and see what happens — slap a cover letter on your offer that has to be conveyed to the seller explaining the offer. If you offer an agent 3.25% (build an extra .25% into the offer) or no sale/keep working, my guess is he’ll take the kicker premium and renegotiate his listing contract with the seller to accommodate. It’s all contracts is really all I’m saying. Contracts can be renegotiated if there is incentive to do so for both parties to them.

    • I actually know of a a 1 bed/1 bath in this price range. It can be done in DC, in a not so transitional neighborhood, with less roi

    • You don’t magically “save” money if you don’t work with a buyer’s agent. All that happens if you work with the seller’s agent that he/she now gets both sides of the commission (the half that he/she normally would have gotten as the listing agent AND the half that would have gone to your buyer’s agent). Furthermore, the seller’s agent first and foremost is representing the best interest of the SELLERS, not yours. Do you think the sellers agent is going to get you, the buyer, the lowest possible price? I’ve been investing in DC real estate for years and I still use a real estate agent every time I buy a place.

      • It’s not magical. Without a buyer’s agent, you can knock say 1 % off your purchase price, the seller can get 95% (instead of 94%) and the seller’s agent can get 4% instead of 3%. Just as an example and if everyone is willing to negotiate or otherwise come to a compromise. This happens all the time, and only two groups of people have trouble believing it. Real Estate agents (who believe it but don’t want other people to believe it) and buyers who feel defensive about using an agent because they don’t want to admit to themselves that they may have wasted many thousands of dollars.

        That being said, when I bought my house I did use an agent. There are a number of ways an agent can be helpful to a buyer, and it can be rational to engage one. You’re simply paying a little extra in return for a service – a perfectly reasonable thing to do or not do. In my case it was well worth it.

        Speaking of which, my agent was Stacey Glover, and I’d reccomend her.

  • I always thought someplace near historic Annacostia would be a good investment. It’s close the water, which is always desirable for developers, and it has an attractive streetscape in my opinion (if you can look past the current state of neglect). There is already a lot of redevelopment happening on the other side of the river that I think will inevitably spread.

    A quick search yielded a few condos that all WELL under $150k:

  • I highly recommend Atieno Okelo Williams who I worked with to buy my first place – a great condo in Parkview – and again last winter to buy our house in Shaw. She runs a great shop, is incredibly knowledgeable, easy to work with, and give really great advice. This is her website:

    • Ati helped me buy my place, too, and I cannot sing her praises highly enough! She was beyond full-service (I was a first-time homebuyer and am also quite Type A) and managed my (very problematic) closing with great aplomb.

  • Redfin won’t even work with you. They require a minimum commission of 2,500 which means the total buyers agent slice (3%) would be $5K. You would have to buy a place with a minimum price of ~170K to qualify for a Refin Agent, which is why Redfin is limited to urban (i.e. expensive) real estate areas and not selling in Turtle Lake North Dakota.

    I have to agree with the others. If you only can afford a 150K place, you have no business or hope of buying real estate in DC. Even a 150K condo is going to have a ~200 a month condo fee and property taxes.

    And no, even as a first time buyer in DC 14 years ago, with a few years out of school I was looking in the 200K range, which then was extremely difficult when you didn’t want to live in a raging ghetto. Save your money for a few more years, get more established and allow yourself the freedom to look to buy in a few places where you would rather live.

    • Many people can afford condo fees and utilities but don’t want to blow their savings on a down payment or whatnot. i have a close girlfriend who had a small budget but got a beautiful condo in SE in a nice building and it’ll be a great investment. It’s VERY possible and happens all the time.

  • Didier Ramos–202-213-1360
    He was my Realtor and has become a good friend over the past 2.5 years.
    I would advise AGAINST doing it on your own as a first time home buyer. I may or may not have been a little high maintenance during my transaction, but Didier talked me off the ledge several times. Buying your first place may very well be the most stressful thing you have done up until now. It’s better to have a professional working for you and who can answer your questions.

  • Here’s my interpretation.

    Do your homework and try to cut a deal with the listing agent on fees. Buyer’s agents typically get 3% on a deal (i.e., $4500 in this case). So, that could help cover closing costs, which were waaaaay more than expected for me.

    A quick redfin search showed many condos in relatively decent locations that the poster could afford. For instace, there are a few one bedroom in the poster’s range near the SW waterfront. That area will be huge in 10 years with the redevelopment in the area. There are also some good income restricted buildings near U Street that might work.

    Sure, a cheap 1 bedroom condo might not be as sexy as million dollar Georgetown homes. But, it’ll still be a good investment.

    • Is it possible to get a condo in a decent building though? I know someone who used to rent in a building where the condos were going for around $150k, but it was a dump with a lot of problems and was poorly managed. Seems like this would be a problem with a lot of these slum units.

  • Appreciate the conversation, BUT, I think we all could stand to remember that ones home should NEVER be considered an ‘investment’ — especially in the DC real estate market with great numbers of properties coming available in previously early transitional neighborhoods.

    For more thoughts:

    • Wha? If ANYWHERE – DC is a place where your home is an investment. I definitely have profited from it.

    • Good advice. Historically, home prices have risen much more slowly than during the bubble, and too many people in DC think that the party will never end here. Buy a house because you like the neighborhood. A buyer (unless he’s a developer) talking about ROI probably is heading straight for trouble.

  • Curious – I just checked Redfin and there are 163 listings under $150,00. Some looked like plain trouble (listed for over 200 days) Most are in far SE & NE, many look like co-ops with very high fees, but really – you only need one to work out. Good luck – and let us know what develops!

  • I would recommend Ready Real Estate. If you find the home and, with your realtor, put a contract in that goes your way, they will give you back 1/3 of their commission that you can use towards the down payment.

  • anon. gardener is the best website – i find it more informative and easier to search than Redfin. Ron Graham (Keller Williams) helped us buy our first home, and we recommend him every chance we get. He grew up in Petworth, really knows the city – he’s a great guy who is really on your side.

    A budget of $150K is totally doable, and a good realtor will take your business (and the small commission), knowing that s/he is building a relationship with you that will result in more business down the road.

  • My wife and I bought a short sale in Petworth three years ago and used Rachel Valentino. She was absolutely incredible with us as first-time home buyers. We have nothing but great things to say about her!

  • As others have said earlier, please don’t let others here discourage you. There are probably many good realtor recommendations on here. Others I have worked with (or their companies) and would not encourage per se, but your mileage may vary.

    My advice is to take time to interview several recommendations for buyer’s agents. You do not pay for them (their fee comes from the seller’s contributions to commissions), and given that you will be making decisions about neighborhood, ability to renovate, and other possible compromises within your price range you need a really good advocate. First time buyers in the lower end of the range can sometimes be rushed by realtors who do not invest the time in their lower commission-generating clients. You want (and deserve) someone who will treat you and your needs properly.

    While dual agency is not illegal in DC, I would also not recommend it in your case or for any first time buyers because two parties in any transaction can not both be equally represented (for example, negotiating money for repairs based on an inspection). It doesn’t save you money anyway (see point on commissions above). Although Redfin agents aren’t an option in your price range, their discussion forums are a great source of information for first time buyers on all of these issues.

    With apologies for rambling also for the coop recommended in this thread, coops are difficult to obtain financing for, so that may not be possible unless you have access to cash.

    Good luck and I hope you will let us know how it works out as many others will learn from your experience.

  • I used Hank Prensky up in Takoma Park (he’s licensed in DC and MD), and we really liked working with him. He’s straightforward, got a dry sense of humor, and has a good relationship with buyer/seller agents in the area. I think his skills really helped us during the initial and counter offers when we bought our first place. We ended up buying a condo up in Takoma Park that is in your budget, which you might be interested in:

    Hank Prensky
    [email protected]

  • For neighborhood recommendations — early transition or not quite yet but will be within the next 5 years — check out Trinidad or the Minnesota Ave corridor near the Metro. Also, Fort Lincoln over by NY Ave. Lots of development over there.

    • I am sorry, but Trinidad has been “5 years away” since early 2000 when people started claiming it was. If Trinidad didn’t “make it” during the largest real estate boom this city has every experienced from 1999 to 2007, then it is going to be a very long time until it does.

      Don’t buy into this “next hot places” BS. The only people trying to sell you that crap are realtors who generally say anything to make a buck, and people who recently moved there and want company to share their sorrow.

      Wander around the city, walk neighborhoods during hte weekend and find a place that YOU want to live, not a place that someone else is telling you that you should want to live.

  • We used Kevin Wood ([email protected]) to purchase our row house as first time home buyers. Here’s why Kevin was an awesome choice. When we showed up at closing the previous owner did not realize that she had a lean on the house and owed tens of thousands of dollars – i.e. we couldn’t actually close. Problem: we had to move out of our rental that weekend. Kevin kept his cool, drew up a short term rental agreement for us to be able to move into the house, while the previous owner worked with her lender for another week to resolve the situation. Given that you may well be looking at foreclosed or short sale or potential short sale properties, he is the guy that will be able to handle that! In addition he is very patient and will work with you as long as it takes, and all that good stuff about knowing the city and its neighborhoods. Good luck!

    • Um, no offense to Mr. Wood, but a tale of a lien “showing up” at closing is not something that makes we want to work with an agent. These things do happen, but a good agent will make sure that they don’t pop up out of nowhere. And they shouldn’t, because liens are public record.

      • Title companies do the title search, not the agents…

      • Anon – it wasn’t Kevin’s fault. It was actually an oversight ( a really really bad one) on the part of the title company. They comped us a bunch of fees for that, but it was still an awful situation.

  • I think it’s a good idea to have your own agent, especially as a first time home buyer. As others have said, it’s a nerve-wracking process and its good to have a cooler head who’s used to all of the games. It’s also good to have someone who has your interests in mind (and not just making the sale, in the case of a dual representation situation). I would also make clear with the agent you select that you expect his/her commission to be paid by the seller (while this is standard, it doesn’t always happen). As for your budget, it is low and it will definitely limit the areas you’re looking at, but it is do-able. Look in SW!

  • I’m seeing enough misinformation here that I feel the need to jump in, and to give my 2 cents on hiring an agent.

    I’m a licensed real estate salesperson but I do not practice. I have bought 1 house with the assistance of an agent.

    First, just a point of clarification. A REALTOR (I don’t know why they always capitalize it) is a member of the NAR, which is nothing more than a professional organization. Many salespersons and brokers are members, but it’s not exactly the same thing. Not a big deal, but just keep in mind that a licensed salesperson can act as your agent and not be a REALTOR.

    Second, a couple people mentioned asking the selling agent to represent you. This is illegal – the same agent can’t represent the buyer and seller in the same transaction (although the same brokerage can if two different agents are used and everything is disclosed).

    That said, this is a shady, shady business, and I’m sure that you can find a selling agent who will offer to “represent” you, but work it out so they are not technically doing anything illegal.

    Third, the way listing agreements are generally structured is that the seller agrees to pay the listing broker a commission, and some of that commission is to be offered to a broker who produces a buyer. So, in a sense the seller has, in fact, already paid for your agent. However, as you said, the bottom line can be negotiated so that you capture some of that value if you choose to go it alone.

    So should you get an agent?

    Back to the shadiness… Even if you get an agent, don’t expect that person to truly represent you. His or her main incentive is to get a deal done in the shortest amount of time while complying with the law, and making you feel good about your decision. Do not assume that hiring an agent necessarily yields a better result.

    However, truth be told, a selling agent might tell your agent things that he or she wouldn’t tell you (for instance, what the seller’s true bottom line is… did I mention that it’s a shady business?). This kind of information might actually help you get a better deal than working on your own.

    Finally, as the buyer, you are the one with most of the risk. The seller knows what he is selling, and he knows he will get paid. However, you don’t really know what you are buying until down the road, and if the transaction is not conducted properly, you could have a whole other set of problems on your hands.

    This is the main benefit of getting an agent. The agent (technically, the broker the agent works for) is signing up to be liable for doing due diligence and conducting the transaction properly.

    A good agent will help you find a property that meets your needs, but in the age of the internet, they are not doing anything you can’t do on your own.

    Is that service worth what it costs, particularly in the age of the internet? Hard to say… If we are talking about a 3% commission on a $150K transaction, $4,500 might be in the ballpark of a reasonable price. At 3 or 4 times that, I would say it’s pretty much a ripoff.

    Of course, it all depends on your own capabilities, what your time is worth, and whether you can get a better deal than 3%.

    Just my 2 cents. Good luck.

    • Lots of good points- but just to clarify- it is not illegal to represent both sides of the transaction in DC. Having said that- you should ask your agent if they will do dual agency. If they say yes- RUN!

  • ROBYN PORTER. She’s awesome, especially for first-time buyers. We weren’t sure what to expect of the process, but quickly found that Robyn was an invaluable guide. She has a great grasp of the DC metro area, is super-responsive, has a wonderful personality, happily answers your infinite number of questions, and fights for you. I can’t recommend her more highly.

  • GreenLine Real Estate – Give us a shot and interview one of our agents… they are experienced, know what living in DC is like and how to find their clients great homes. Plus we are a small local company currently based out of Petworth. See the profiles and learn about us at

    • I would highly recommend Tom Spier at Greenline Real Estate. My wife and I worked with him when buying our first house and he was great. He showed us a ton of houses and never pressured us to buy one, unlike other agents we used. Very helpful and very honest, something we really appreciated. Knowing Tom, I’m sure the other agents there are of the same high quality, but I haven’t worked directly with them.

  • I’m surprised no one has recommended my awesome realtor, Dina Paxenos. She was incredibly patient with me and my wife (and I can be difficult), and is super knowledgeable about the housing market in DC, as well as the multitude of vendors you will need. I recommend her unreservedly. If I buy another house I’ll hire her for sure.

  • Morgan Knull is amazing!!! He helped me find my first condo 4 years ago and I still get cards on the anniversary of my home purchase. He went to bat for me with lenders and continued to help me years later when I ran into an issue with DC property taxes because (shocker) they assigned the wrong lot number to my condo and were trying to charge me the taxes for some grand house in NW. He spent hours working on helping me get to the bottom of the situation. He’s a gem!!!!

  • If the OP is posting here for advice, not are they are prepared to so the leg work. Buying a house is not like buying a pair of shoes. There are a lot of financial and legal risks involved. I would get referrals from friends and interview 2-3 agents. Find someone who is competent and who you click with. I’m a practicing attorney and a brutal negotiator. But when it came time to invest in a house, I wasn’t going to risk wasting my investment (like I do when I bought my first condo off the rack like a typical schlep).

  • We use Jim Norris with Tutt Taylor. He knows this town very well and will take the time to help you find a good place in whatever neighborhood you’re interested in….

  • I used Loved the lack of BS and actually learned a ton.

  • ANYONE but EJF Real Estate… they are horrific.

  • ANYONE but EJF Real Estate… they are absolutely horrific.

  • Some of this advice about not being able to find a place in DC or even Northwest for that matter is ridiculous and misguided. I bought a 700 square foot with GE Profile appliances, granite, wood floors, excellent neighbors in dog friendly building completely renovated unit with patio and parking in DC off of Missouri between 13th and 14th for $134,000 in 2010. It was a short sale so took me about 9 months for it to go through but was worth every minute. A few years prior it went for $350,000 and I plan next year to sell it for $230,000 or so and will walk away with an obscene amount of money after 3 years. It’s in Brightwood right off of Rock Creek Park and is one of the two modern buildings on my block. Yes, it was a hidden gem but my realtor Cher Castillo Freeman of Sky Real Estate was amazing and found the place for me. In fact I will use her to sell it for me and buy a 2 bedroom next year.

    I agree that Matt Zanoli at Keller Williams is also great. I know him personally and Atieno Williams was actually a realtor for another unit in my building.

    Quit crushing this guys dream. It can be done.

  • Check out the condos in Fairfax Village in far southeast. It has great bus connections, and it has bike share. Its a longish walk to metro but possile.
    The place has nice grounds and a low crime rate. I lived there for for over 25 years before moving to the H Street corridor. The area really has a lot to offer but bars or restaurants.

  • Mike Matese & Stephen Gormley at Long & Foster.

  • Leslie Suarez (
    She is amazing. She gives you homework to do by yourself so that you only have to see the houses you really like and aren’t wasting time. She is sassy and knows DC really well. She is absolutely wonderful. She helped me buy my condo and a couple I know by a house a block away. HIGHLY recommend.

  • I used Kevin Wood and he was great; my sixth house purchase and he really helped me find exactly what I wanted at a good price. For what it’s worth, I think it’s silly for a first time buyer to forgo using an agent. You might be able to negotiate some small discount but it will likely be negated by the trouble of arranging everything yourself and you could miss something important. You will wind up paying them eventually when you sell, so you might as well get some value on this end.

  • Jim Norris with Sotheby’s. He helped us with the purchase of a small condo in Adams Morgan and later a 3 BR house in Petworth. He drove me around to look at likely places all over the city to help us narrow it down, and everything went very smoothly during both purchases.

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