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by PoP Sponsor June 14, 2018 at 12:15 pm 0


This column is written by Metro DC Houses, a local real estate team serving DC, MD, VA made up of Colin Johnson, the immediate past President for the D.C. Association of Realtors and Christopher Suranna, the current President for the D.C. Association of Realtors.

If you have been in DC for a few years we are sure you have read about some neighborhoods successfully creating historic districts (Emerald Street) or unsuccessfully (Kingman Park).

According to DC there are more than 50 historic districts, monuments and sites around the city.

Full disclosure, Colin lives in a historic district, but Chris does not; but we were interested in dipping our toe in this topic.

There have been several articles and studies citing the costs associated with categorizing properties within one of these districts. One study states that it raises renovation expenses by 33 cents for every dollar spent.

But what we were interested in reviewing was value. Does it pay to live in a historic district?

There is a particular study out of California, which cites a 16% increase in value; but there is a significant difference in many of our historic districts as compared to this study’s subjects.

Their laws appear to only impact individual properties and those properties may only maintain their historic status for 10 years before some type of action needs to be taken by the current owner.

There are some properties like this in DC, but most of the historic district’s overlay on a stretch of properties and in some cases owners may not even realize their property resides in one of these areas until it comes time to renovate.

We decided to look at real estate sales over the past 10 years in 2 historic districts; Foxhall Village Historic District and Takoma Park, located in zip codes 20007 and 20012, respectively. We only considered attached and detached, fee simple properties, so no condos or coops.

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by PoP Sponsor June 7, 2018 at 12:15 pm 0

This column is written and sponsored by D.C. real estate agent and Edgewood resident Jessica Evans. Email her questions at  [email protected].

5 Mistakes That are Costing Sellers Money in Today’s Market

  1. Not Preparing
  2. Overpricing
  3. Skipping Easy Upgrades
  4. Not Compensating for Negatives
  5. Selling Off Market

Prepare For the Worst, Hope For the Best

In today’s sellers market, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you don’t really have to do much to prepare your home for sale, because there will be plenty of buyers. In reality, while buyer demand exceeds supply, there are no guarantees that your home is going to sell instantly or for the price that you want without proper preparation.

Your home may never be a 10/10 and that’s OK, but you should put some time and effort into making sure that it shows its best. The little things can add up and impact a buyers impression of your home, don’t skip on repairing anything not in normal working order, thorough cleaning, de-cluttering and de-personalizing and staging — these can all make a difference.

Overpricing

This time of year it is especially easy for sellers to look at similar homes in their neighborhood that have sold and think they can sell for more.

It’s true that prices have been going up, but a solid pricing strategy includes pricing at the market value, not above. It is important to be honest about property condition. If your kitchen is 10 years old, it does not have the same appeal to buyers as a newly renovated kitchen.

Similarly, a 1st floor location in a building is not going to sell for the same price as the 5th. It’s as important as ever to really analyze the differences between your home and the other homes that have sold recently, and price accordingly.

Overpricing can have dramatic effects on the end sales price, in as little as 14-21 days a buyers mindset is likely to shift to thinking that your home is overpriced (which it probably is if its under $1m and sits on the market for that long) and offers will reflect this. Pricing appropriately for the market value is the surest way to get the highest possible sales price.

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by PoP Sponsor May 31, 2018 at 12:15 pm 0

This column is written by D.C. Realtor and resident Sean Forschler.  Licensed in DC, MD & VA, he has been in the business since 2001 and currently works at RLAH Real Estate. He may be contacted at [email protected].

Last week, I described what a co-operative (co-op) is and gave some examples of how it differs from condominium ownership. To recap, it’s a corporation that provides housing for its members as evidenced by shares of stock or other documents.

This week I am going to explain the “underlying mortgage,” a.k.a. “blanket mortgage,” a.k.a. corporate mortgage indebtedness. From here on out, I’ll refer to this large loan as the UM.

In the UM, the land and building are used as collateral. Each residential unit will take on a piece of the loan payment based on their par value. This generally corresponds to the size or square footage of the unit. Therefore, the larger the unit, the higher the piece of this UM the resident is responsible for and vice versa.

The payment of the UM is part of the monthly co-op fee. Therefore the co-op fee is generally comprised of maintenance of the building and grounds, the unit’s portion of taxes and portion of this UM payment.

This is why many co-ops seem to have very high monthly fees but keep in mind that the taxes will pretty much remain stable, unlike a condo, and interest on the UM is tax deductible.

Now, not all co-ops have this UM payment as the UM has been paid off.

When purchasing a co-op, you must take into account the unit’s total remaining balance of the UM. Below is an example of how to calculate how much would need to be financed in order to purchase a co-op with a UM: (more…)

by PoP Sponsor May 24, 2018 at 12:15 pm 0

This weekly column is written and sponsored by D.C. real estate agent and Kalorama resident Jeffrey Tanck. He can be reached at [email protected]kTanck.com.

And we’re back for the final segment on being a Do-it-Yourself Landlord.

At this point you’ve gotten all of your required licenses, identified and vetted a great tenant, signed a lease and are ready to start collecting rent.

In DC, Landlords can only charge tenants a security deposit equal to or less than one month’s rent. This deposit must be placed in a separate interest bearing account and you should notify your tenant of the name and location of the financial institution that is holding the funds.

For leases 12 months or longer the interest earned is to be provided to the tenant upon return of their security deposit, which must occur within 45 days of the tenants leaving. If you’re not planning on returning the deposit due to non-payment or damage to the property, you are still required to inform the tenant in writing of the status of their deposit within the 45-day time frame.

You also need to decide how you would like your tenant to pay you every month.

Thankfully, “There’s an app for that!” Venmo and Paypal are great ways to receive money and they create an easily accessible record of the transaction. You can also ask your tenants to set up an auto-pay with their bank into your account. Checks are also an option — but are increasingly rare. (more…)

by PoP Sponsor May 17, 2018 at 12:15 pm 0

This column is written by D.C. Realtor and resident Sean Forschler.  Licensed in DC, MD & VA, he has been in the business since 2001 and currently works at RLAH Real Estate. He may be contacted at [email protected].

Co-operatives (co-ops) are probably the least understood type of residential home ownership. And yet, DC is one of 3 major cities where this type of ownership thrives — The other cities are New York and Chicago.

They have existed in the city since the 1920’s and unlike condominiums, co-ops never required special legislation to come into existence. DC contains about 125 co-ops (with only a few in VA & MD) and if included in a home search, many more options become available to a buyer.

A co-op is simply a corporation owned and operated by its members, in order to provide housing for its members. The corporation owns the land and improvements and thus is taxed as a whole entity.

Because of this structure, taxes tend to be significantly lower than its condominium counterpart, being one of several benefits of owning a co-op. Each unit owner pays for a portion of this monthly tax based on their ownership interest.

Ownership interest is generally based on the size of a unit. Having taxes included in the monthly fee is quite unique to co-ops as this is not the case with condo fees.

Of course, as in anything, there are a few exemptions, such as the Watergate and Riverplace. These co-operatives actually lease their land, owning only the improvements (buildings). (more…)

by PoP Sponsor May 10, 2018 at 12:15 pm 0


This column is written by Metro DC Houses, a local real estate team serving DC, MD, VA made up of Colin Johnson, the immediate past President for the D.C. Association of Realtors and Christopher Suranna, the current President for the D.C. Association of Realtors.

We saw a blog post at Streetsblog NYC that said that Central Park in NYC will go car free starting on June 27 and it raised a question with us; what is the value of a parking space in DC?

We found that since 2003 the value of a parking space has only gone up .79%. That’s right folks! In one of the hottest markets in the country, appreciating double digits in some areas, the price of a parking space has only gone up by .79%.

We took a look at sales of 1-bedroom condos in three zip codes since 2003 and compared prices of those with parking versus those without parking since parking spaces are often incorporated with the sale.

We chose the Dupont area (20036), Logan Circle area (20005) and Capitol Hill (20003). The locations vary in density and obviously there is a difference in changes to the neighborhoods in that time period, but the findings were interesting.

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by PoP Sponsor May 3, 2018 at 12:15 pm 0

This column is written and sponsored by D.C. real estate agent and Edgewood resident Jessica Evans. Email her questions at  [email protected].

We’ve been flying through the homebuying process and we’re finally on the final step — settlement! If you’ve made it this far, you’re on the fast track to homeownership.

To some buyers, I think that settlement seems like it is going to be more of a grand finale than it usually ends up to be, spoiler alert — there are no balloons or confetti. In exchange for what is likely the largest check you’ve ever written, you uneventfully get a few sets of keys and to sign your name hundreds of times.

But what actually happens at settlement? How should a buyer prepare? Let’s look at the final steps of the homebuying process in detail:

Preparing for settlement: Most importantly, a buyer’s #1 priority is making sure that the funds necessary to complete the transaction are received by the settlement date. This includes the loan (which is sent directly to the title company by the mortgage provider) and any funds that the buyer is responsible for (including down payment and closing costs).

It is important to note that most title companies do not accept cash or personal checks — it is recommended that a buyer work on getting their funds to the title company no later than the day before settlement to ensure no delays or issues.

Other things that you will want to have completed include setting up utilities, scheduling a move (in a condo building) and preparing any last minute questions for the seller.

The pre-settlement walkthrough: This is typically the last visit to the property before taking ownership, the purpose is to either ensure that any agreed upon property condition requirements are completed (ie. home inspection repairs) or that there have been no changes to the condition of the home. It’s your final opportunity as a buyer to see that the basement has not flooded, a tree branch hasn’t fallen through the roof and that what you are about to buy is in fact what you are expecting. (more…)

by PoP Sponsor April 26, 2018 at 12:15 pm 0


This weekly column is written and sponsored by D.C. real estate agent and Kalorama resident Jeffrey Tanck. He can be reached at [email protected].

Now that you’re properly licensed and insured, its time to find a great tenant for your rental. Your mantra here should be, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

Just like dating, most renters encounter their future home online — and you have about two seconds to compel your prospect to swipe right, so to speak. Like your Tinder profile, the listing for your rental should shine.

Invest in professional photography. Camera phone photos won’t cut it.

Have a floor plan made of your space and post it online and list the approximate square footage based on the measurements. The more information you can provide to potential tenants, the more invested they will be when they contact you to set up a tour.

Your listing should clearly articulate the amount of the rent, the security deposit, minimum lease term, your pet policy, which utilities are included and which ones are the responsibility of the tenant and what fees are involved with the application and move in.

There are many great places to find tenants: Craigslist, community listservs, housing offices of universities, human resource departments and online listing sites like Trulia, Zillow and Pad Mapper. These same sites are also great places to research what comparable properties are getting for rent.

When pricing your property, what you pay per month to carry it is irrelevant. Of course you would like to cover your costs and make money — but the market sets the price and you might not be able to cover all of your costs at this point.

Set a price for your rental that is in-line with available properties in the same general condition and location as your own.

When it comes to showing your property to potential tenants, consistency is key. You need to treat every prospect the same. Offering different terms, conditions or deal structures to different prospects could violate fair housing laws. DC has 19 protected classes and you need to be familiar with them.

Having an open house is a great way to show the property to the most number of people in the shortest amount of time. It can also help create a sense of urgency among the potential tenants if the open house is well attended. You can also schedule individual appointments as needed. (more…)

by PoP Sponsor April 19, 2018 at 12:15 pm 0


This column is written and sponsored by D.C. real estate agent and Edgewood resident Jessica Evans. Email her questions at  [email protected].

We’re flying through the steps of the home-buying process with just a few more to go. If you have missed any or want to start at the beginning, you can do that here.

Now that you’ve made it through the home inspection, and have a ratified contract on a home, we’re on to part 2 of the financing process. Financing part 1 was choosing a lender and pre-approval. Now that you have a home lined up to purchase, it’s time for part 2, the loan application and other steps needed to receive your financing on the settlement day.

The loan approval process is in many ways very similar to the loan pre-approval process. In addition to filling out a loan application you will be requested to submit documents. Depending on your financial situation this may be the same documents requested for pre-approval or many more.

Expect your entire financial (and tax) situation to be examined under a microscope with numerous requests for documentation. During this time it is important that there are no substantial changes to your financial situation, in particular:

  • Don’t move any funds without discussing with your lender.
  • Don’t make any large deposits unless you are able to document the source of the funds.
  • Receiving gift funds? These need to be properly documented. Do not accept or deposit gift funds without speaking to your lender.
  • Do not apply for new debt of any kind. This includes credit cards, car loans, or refinancing any of your existing loans (unless recommended by your lender).
  • Consider credit monitoring (during your search and through settlement) to make sure that there are no unauthorized changes to your credit score.

While the the information that you provide your lender will confirm that you qualify for your loan, the other part of the equation is making sure that the property that you are purchasing qualifies.

Since the property you are purchasing will be collateral for your loan, the bank wants to make sure that your loan is based on the market value and that there are no conditions that would have a substantial impact on their ability to sell the property in the event of foreclosure.

How does a bank know what the home your buying is worth? This is where the appraisal comes in. Your lender will order your appraisal, and it will be conducted by a third party service provider. The appraiser will have a copy of the sale contract. They will visit the home to take measurements, document the size and condition, and note any adverse conditions. (more…)

by PoP Sponsor April 12, 2018 at 12:15 pm 0

This column is written by Metro DC Houses, a local real estate team serving DC, MD, VA made up of Colin Johnson, the immediate past President for the D.C. Association of Realtors and Christopher Suranna, the current President for the D.C. Association of Realtors.

For over 10 years, the Washington Nationals have called Navy Yard (or Capitol Riverfront) their home.

During this time, the neighborhood has seen a resurgence of housing and commerce replacing what was at times considered DC’s industrial backyard.

While Nationals Stadium has been a key cornerstone of this success, such a rapid change could not have happened without a concerted effort by city officials, developers and local residents.

The Capitol Riverfront BID sees the area becoming the, “next-generation neighborhood for business, recreation and city life.” So much so, that Mayor Bowser has even pitched it to Amazon for their future HQ2 site.

With so much development, we thought we’d take a look at the numbers from the perspective of a future homeowner, renter or investor that has been wondering if the Navy Yard is right for them. (more…)

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