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by PoP Sponsor August 16, 2018 at 12:15 pm 0

This column in written by Randy LiVorsi, of the District Residential Group. A DC resident for 16 years, he is licensed in DC and VA. Randy holds a Masters in Organizational Management and Development and is a certified project manager with a current PMP. Each month he will dig into all things DC area real estate. He is also a General in the KISS Army, so get ready to rock and real estate all night, and party every day!

For first time home buyers, one of the most ‘understudied’ and intimidating parts of the purchase transaction is the process of selecting not just a lender, but also discerning what mortgage product best fits their needs.

In my experience, the most common reason first time buyers shy away from adeptly navigating this component revolves around one thing — fear.

Fear of the unknown, fear of the perceived complexities of both the products as well as the process of obtaining a mortgage. Like anything else, if an emotion drives behavior that leads to avoidance, it can result in an unnecessary ‘handicap’ that can be costly.

In this month’s installment, I share three tips to amp up your readiness as a buyer and a bonus fourth for the real overachievers!

1. Eliminate ego and critically assess your own level of knowledge.

Read, read, read, read… and then read more. Don’t be intimidated by what you identify as shortcomings.

Create a punch list of those specific items​ — whatever they may be (eg. the difference Fixed Rate Mortgage (FRM) vs. an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM).

Next, do independent research — ​there’s no one you will trust more than yourself. Don’t ​rely​ on what your friend said last week — there are too many extraneous variables specific to YOUR purchase goals that likely do not align with the well meaning advice of your friend.

2. Establish a comfortable baseline where you can confidently speak to a loan officer without experiencing crippling levels of anxiety or nervousness.  (more…)

by PoP Sponsor August 9, 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.

The question we wanted to answer this month is, “do condo fees negatively impact appreciation if over an average number?”

We chose the Georgetown zip code 20007 and found over the last 10 years the average condo fee for a one-bedroom unit is $514 dollars per month.

Condo fees vary based on services provide in building, so our assumption is condos with higher fees have more services and units with lower fees have fewer services. We didn’t consider anything except bedroom-count and on average we saw fewer units sold with higher condo fees (29 units) and more with lower condo fees (52 units).

There is another thing to consider in this evaluation, borrowing power because condo fees can limit the amount a purchaser can borrow if they are only approved for a certain amount per month.

As an example, if someone is qualified to afford $2000 a month and a condo fee is $500 that purchaser can now only afford debt equal to $1500 per month and obviously interest rates vary with that amount.

Based on our findings higher condo fees do negatively impact appreciation for units that have fees above average over the last ten years. For units that have condo fees below average the properties did appreciated slightly higher. One should also note that units with higher condo fees typically sell at a higher sales price than units with lower condo fees.

In our experience, condo fees do not directly relate one-to-one on value, but it can be concluded that enough consumers did not take this into consideration when conducting comps.

It is likely in some cases a consumer compared a lower condo fee unit with one of a higher condo fee, which typically sells for a higher price and in enough of those situations probably over-valued those properties over the years.

by PoP Sponsor July 26, 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].

Before answering this question, you need to first understand what “title” is in reference to property.

In the simplest terms, it means ownership. When you take title to something, you take ownership, like when you get the title to a car. When a property is being purchased, the title company (a.k.a. settlement company) researches the public records to verify that the ownership of the subject property has been legally transferred from party to party.

Over the years, mistakes in these records happen. Such a search can also turn up unreleased mortgages and other liens on the property, like a tax lien or mechanics lien.

Title searches revealing such defects are common enough and generally, quite fixable. However, even the most careful and thorough title searches can miss important information and hazards, despite the knowledge and experience of professional title examiners.

Title problems may exist that cannot be disclosed in a search. For example, if 16-year old signed documents transferring the property to another owner, this would be a problem since that person was a minor. Or, say a couple divorces and one of them sells the property as a sole owner and pockets the proceeds. Not legal! (more…)

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

This column in written by Randy LiVorsi, of the District Residential Group. A DC resident for 16 years, he is licensed in DC and VA. Randy holds a Masters in Organizational Management and Development and is a certified project manager with a current PMP. Each month he will dig into all things DC area real estate. He is also a General in the KISS Army, so get ready to rock and real estate all night, and party every day!

With so many cranes across D.C., and the incredible amount of real estate development and opportunities happening, let’s dig into the 20020 zip code (Historic Anacostia, Hill Crest, Randle Heights and many others). We’ll see what’s there, what’s coming and how these developments are driving factors influencing that market.

If you’ve been or are considering purchasing, this should provide timely, valuable information. For 20020 sellers, this is pertinent information that affects the value of your home.

What’s already there?

Uniontown Bar and Grill plus other restaurants along MLK are showing that small local businesses can open and thrive.

Hive 2.0, a small business incubator, acts as home base for more than 55 entrepreneurs, and a lively arts district gives this area an established lively culture and strong base.

What’s coming will supercharge the area. Let’s take a look.

11th St. Bridge Park 

Announced in 2014 and being built on the old pillars of the 11th St. Bridge, this expansive ‘bridge park’ will be roughly the size of 3 football fields placed back to back spanning the Anacostia River (connecting Wards 6 and Wards 7 & 8).

D.C.’s first ‘elevated public park’ this ambitious project is intended to be a green space used for residents on both sides of the river to explore healthy recreation, environmental education, entertainment (yes, concerts on a bridge ABOVE the river) and a shared platform for the arts.

Similar to the High Line in NYC, this is a green initiative repurposing the pylons with what looks to be a spectacular pedestrian park bridge.

The Wizards Training Center

Although located in adjacent zip code 20032, this project will bring benefits to not just its home zip, but the southern part of 20020.

(more…)

by PoP Sponsor July 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.

As we prepare to say goodbye to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, we can’t seem to get our mind off of the beautiful game! With the final looming on Sunday, the energy felt by the fans of each team is electric and frankly exciting just to be around.

Apart from fútbol, we have a passion for real estate and the architecture of our city, so we thought we’d have our own match-up between the French and the Croatian Embassy through the lens of DC real estate.

Embassy of France in the United States

Location: 4101 Reservoir Road, NW — Washington, D.C. 20007

The current site of the French Embassy is different from other embassies in terms of its location (off Embassy Row), its massive size and fairly recent history. The complex was designed by French Architect, André Remondet and built in the early 80’s by the local George Hyman Construction Company.

It consists of four separate buildings that host its chancery, general embassy services, the consulate general and its wonderful space for cultural happenings hosted by the French embassy, La Maison Française.

Made up of a ballroom, auditorium and exhibition hall, La Maison Française hosts a variety of events for the general public such as concerts, cinema, dancing and art exhibitions. If they continue in the recent trend as the French team has been advancing in the World Cup, they might even have a World Cup Final Watch Party this coming Sunday! Keep an eye on their Facebook page as they might post the event soon and you need to register to guarantee a free ticket in. (more…)

by PoP Sponsor July 5, 2018 at 12:15 pm 0

This column is written by Eli Tucker, a DC Metro-based Realtor, and weekly real estate columnist for ARLnow. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: When is the best time to sell a home in Washington DC? Is the best time to sell a home also the worst time to buy a home?

Answer: Hi PoPville, I hope everybody had a great Fourth of July in the Nation’s Capital!

I write a weekly data-driven real estate column for PoPville’s sister local news company in Arlington, ARLnow and was asked to jump in as a guest columnist for this week’s PoPville column.

All of the data I use is from the MLS (real estate database of record) and highly customized for the specific topic to provide the most accurate information possible. I hope you find it interesting and informative!

The question of the best/worst time to buy or sell a home is one of the most common questions I get from clients.

A quick google search or conversation with different real estate agents will result in any number of theories and opinions on the topic so I’ve put together real sales data from Washington D.C. since 2014 to provide the answer through unbiased data.

Best Month To Sell Is…

Statistically, putting your home on the market for sale from February-May gives you the best opportunity to sell faster and for more money than any other time of the year, with April being the aggregate leader in speed and negotiation leverage.

However, you will face the most competition from new listings during these months but increased demand clearly off-sets that.

The Data Set (more…)

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.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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].

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…)

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